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Government funding for manufacturing research

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Projects exploring how light can be used in innovative manufacturing processes will receive £3.6m

Research projects which will explore how light can be used in innovative manufacturing processes and technologies have been awarded £3.6 million of government investment.

The funding from The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) was announced by the business secretary Vince Cable during his tour of M Squared, a laser development company, in Glasgow.

The grant will be used to fund a number of 18-month feasibility studies that aim to advance core science towards manufacturing in diverse sectors including pharmaceuticals, chemicals, electronics and security.

Vince Cable said: “This new funding will develop research to support the UK’s growing manufacturing sector which already employs around 2.5 million people. This early stage research will give businesses such as M Squared a great opportunity to develop new technologies to create more effective and efficient manufacturing processes.

“The government's industrial strategy is giving business the confidence to invest, delivering skilled jobs and driving growth in Scotland and across the UK. We must not stand still and risk being left behind in the future.”

Examples of the 14 projects include controlling electronic forces using light patterns to assemble electronic components into circuits and using lasers themselves as a growth technique to create high-power laser devices that can be adopted by the UK manufacturing sector.

David Delpy, chief executive of the engineering and physical sciences research council, said: “These projects demonstrate how research into the fundamental science and engineering of optical phenomena can have a significant impact in manufacturing and also shows how well the UK academic base works with industry to enable the UK to benefit from fundamental discoveries.”

Professor Sir David Payne, director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton and a founder of SPI Lasers, added: “The UK remains a major manufacturing nation and this new EPSRC initiative will help us stay ahead of the competition. Photonics – where light meets electronics – is a key UK strength and these new projects demonstrate the astonishing range of innovative ideas that emerge when scientists and engineers think about manufacturing. The key is to work with industry and understand the opportunity not only to improve existing manufacturing methods, but to develop entirely new ways to make things.”

The 14 research projects


  • University of Edinburgh
    Laser-induced nucleation for crystallisation of high-value materials in continuous manufacturing processes
  • University of Nottingham
    Rapid assembly of living micro-tissues with holographic optical tweezers; Cell 'LEGO' for regenerative medicine
  • Imperial College London
    FPP3D: Coupling frontal photopolymerisation and interfacial wrinkling for single shot 3D patterning
  • University of Liverpool
    Photochemical ALD to manufacture functional thin films
  • University of Surrey
    Laser-induced Photochemistry in Continuous Flow Reactors
  • Heriot-Watt University
    Photosynthesis-inspired manufacturing of metal patterns (photobioform)
  • University of Southampton
    Lasers making Lasers
  • University of Southampton
    Digital Multimirror Devices for laser-based Manufacturing
  • Imperial College London
    Laser-Generated Ultrasound for Thermosonic Bonding
  • Swansea University
    Internally lit photobioreactors for enhanced product formation from algae using LED systems: Energy transformed into high value chemical products
  • University of Dundee
    Scale up of optical fractionation for bio-processing
  • Heriot-Watt University
    Photoelasticity for opaque objects
  • University of Glasgow
    Assembly of electronic components with Optoelectronic Tweezers
  • University of Nottingham
    Continuous Chemical Manufacture with Light (C2ML)
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