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The Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) at the University of Surrey recently marked its 5th anniversary with a symposium on the science and technology of future electronics and photonics. Hot topics in current research were presented by world-leading keynote speakers, followed by talks on the research achievements of the next generation of younger staff and research students at the ATI.
The symposium covered topics in nanoelectronics, photonics, applications of ion beams, and the theory of advanced materials and devices. An underlying theme for the day was the applications of technology in renewable energy, information technology & communication, and healthcare, and to improve quality of life.
The first keynote speaker, Professor Gehan Amaratunga FREng, is Professor of Engineering at Cambridge University. He is a pioneer of the use of nanoscale materials and device design for electronics and energy conversion. Professor Gehan Amaratunga described progress in nanotube and nanowire electronic devices, and showed how the unique properties of structures with nanometer-scale dimensions could lead to improved performance in important devices such as transistors.
Professor Sir John Pendry FRS of Imperial College London is one of the pioneers of the field of optical metamaterials - artificially engineered materials which exhibit remarkable properties not found in nature. He described a new approach of "transformation optics", suitable for designing optics on the nanoscale where concepts of electromagnetic rays are not valid. Applications of this approach include the superlens which beats the resolution limit imposed by diffraction in conventional lenses.
The final keynote presentation was given by Dr Mario Paniccia, Intel Fellow and Director of the Photonic Technology Laboratory at Intel Corporation. His research group has made numerous breakthroughs in the area of silicon photonics in recent years, and Dr Paniccia paid tribute to earlier work at the University of Surrey which laid the foundations for this progress. In his presentation, he stated that the use of optical interconnects would be essential to maintain progress in computational power in line with Moore's law. He showed how silicon-based technologies could be used to modulate, transmit and detect light, and mapped out the path towards future integration of silicon CMOS microprocessors with silicon-based optical communications.
The presentations from the ATI focused on the research achievements of staff and research students. Topics ranged from the use of nanostructures in solar cells and light emitters, new optical storage devices based on metamaterials, to the use of ion beams in fighting crime.
In his opening speech, the Vice-Chancellor had congratulated the ATI on its output of over 700 journal papers, 23 patents and 4 spin-out companies. This has been achieved by multidisciplinary teams working together on topics ranging from basic science to applications of technology, exemplifying what the University of Surrey stands for. The present Director of the ATI, Professor Ravi Silva, looked back to the opening of the ATI in October 2002, thanking Professors Michael Kelly and Michael Kearney for their role in establishing the ATI. He showed how the criteria for the success of a multidisciplinary research centre, which Lord Sainsbury enumerated at the ATI's inauguration, had been met. Commenting on the Government's Science and Innovation strategy, he showed how the ATI's approach of solution-oriented, critical-mass, redeployable research teams generating high quality research was allowing it to engage in the "Race to the Top".
In his closing speech summing up the day's themes, Professor Jeremy Allam took a light-hearted look at two and a half million years of technology since the appearance of the first humans homo habilis, otherwise known as the ‘tool-maker'. Increasing life expectancy, the development of civilisations, and the whole of human progress are inextricably dependent on advances in technology. Speculating on the likely research themes of a "prehistoric Advanced Technology Institute", artefacts such as tools for making fire, counting sticks, trepanned skulls and pottery point to long standing preoccupations with energy, information technology, healthcare, and technology in the service of society and culture. These preoccupations have endured through history until the present, when there has never been a greater need for well-targeted technology to address the global challenges facing humankind today. Noting the excellence of the talks given by the young staff and students from the ATI, Professor Allam commented that the future of technology is in good hands.
A full list of the talks is given below.
Welcome from Professor Christopher Snowden, Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive, University of Surrey
"Overview of ATI Achievements" by Professor Ravi Silva, Director of ATI
"Nanotube and Nanowire Electronic Devices", Professor Gehan Amaratunga, CAPE, University of Cambridge
"Energizing the agenda" Dr Ross Hatton (ATI)
"Electronics in a spin" Dr Steven Clowes (ATI)
"Tomorrow's electronics today" Dr Andy Smith (ATI)
"Fighting cancer and crime with ion beams" Dr Melanie Webb (ATI)
"Transformation Optics: Designing Optics on the Nanoscale", Professor Sir John Pendry, The Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London
"Trapping rainbows with metamaterials" Mr Kosmos Tsakmakidis (ATI)
"Putting quantum dots to work" Dr Aleksey Andreev (ATI)
"Silicon Photonics: Opportunity Challenges and Recent Results", Dr Mario Paniccia, Intel Corporation, Santa Clara, USA
"Taking the strain from the internet" Dr Stephen Sweeney (ATI)
"Organics meets quantum Dots: The best of both worlds" Dr Richard Curry (ATI)
Wrap-up & thanks, Professor Jeremy Allam, Deputy Director of ATI
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