Hub launches Innovation Fund

The EPSRC-funded Future Photonics Hub has launched the first call for proposals to its Innovation Fund. The Fund will enable the inclusion of academic partners who bring additional value to the programme, via short research projects that support the following objectives: the development of next-generation photonics manufacturing processes to provide lower-cost, higher performing sensors, lasers and sub-systems. Industry are encouraged to participate as project partners to demonstrate a pathway to manufacturing and exploitation.

The call is now open and initial engagement will be via short research projects that support the objectives of the programme – specifically the development of next-generation photonics manufacturing processes to provide lower-cost, higher-performing integrated sensors, lasers and sub-systems. Industry are encouraged to participate as project partners to demonstrate a pathway to manufacturing and exploitation, although cannot receive funding directly. Partners from photonics manufacturing sectors and those that utilise photonics technology are particularly welcome.

Core research themes of the Future Photonics Hub are listed below and should give a general steer to proposers. Proposers are encouraged to discuss their proposals with the named Hub investigators detailed below in each project area.  The deadline for submission of proposals is Monday 7 November 2016

High-performance silica optical fibres
Hub Contacts: Prof Jayanta Sahu, Prof David Richardon, Prof Michalis Zervas

Focus on two key challenges in fibre manufacturing to meet short and long-term industry needs: improving loss, gain and power handling and increasing the transmission window to enable new applications.

  • Developing volume-scalable, cost-effective, manufacturable special fibres and fibres for use in ultra-high-power light sources and transmission
  • Large-scale, low-cost integration with III-V sources
  • Designs and processes for cheaper, more reliable and efficient near-IR fibre lasers and systems
  • Next-generation solid-core and microstructured fibre technologies interfacing with other optical and electronic platforms
  • Manufacturing technologies for fibre preforms such as 3D printing

Light generation and delivery
Hub Contacts: Prof Jon Heffernan, Prof Francesco Poletti

Devices such as quantum-cascade lasers, antimonide-based lasers/LEDs and fibre supercontinuum sources have generated new markets in areas such as sensing, imaging, healthcare and spectroscopy. This platform will drive the transition required for growth in these photonics-enabled industries, from discrete components to low-cost, compact, integrated platforms.

  • New manufacturing methods to integrate semiconductor sources with Si/SOI, based on bespoke metamaterials and microstructured fibres
  • Reliable and integrated mid-IR delivery fibres
  • A manufacturing platform for compound-glass hollow-core fibres
  • Novel fabrication methods for microstructured fibre pre-forms (e.g. 3D printing) to improve fibre precision, yield, flexibility and integration with new light sources

Silicon Photonics
Hub Contacts: Prof Graham Reed, Prof Goran Mashanovich

Silicon photonics has made major advances in functionality at the chip level, but integration remains an obstacle to the development of the technology. This platform focuses on solutions to this key challenge.

  • Integration with optical fibre devices, III-V light sources and the key components of wafer-level manufacturing, e.g., on-line test and measurement
  • Development of economical manufacturing processes to enable the growth or integration of metamaterials, chalcogenide glasses or III-V light sources directly on the silicon platform

Large-scale manufacture of metamaterials and 2D materials
Hub Contacts: Prof Nikolay Zheludev, Dr Kevin MacDonald, Prof Dan Hewak, Prof Martin Charlton, Dr Ian Ferrer

Metamaterials and 2D materials provide extraordinary properties that disrupt conventional ideas on device performance. This platform focuses on lowcost, scalable manufacturing of metamaterials that has so far been an obstacle to their proliferation in devices and systems.

  • Development of processes for low-cost and high-throughput manufacturing of metamaterials and integration with optoelectronic, planar waveguide and optical fibre technology
  • Driving new epitaxy and integration processes for the manufacturing of large area (wafer scale) 2D materials, from proof of principle to industrial validation
  • Characterisation and optimisation of 2D materials for emerging applications

Integration
Hub Contacts: Prof Jon Heffernan, Prof Gilberto Brambilla

Proposals involving integration of two or more of the above themes are particularly welcome. Example topics could include:

  • Novel device transfer methods – methods such as transfer printing, or microfluidic assembly are of interest for assembling large numbers of discreet devices on to novel substrates including Si-SOI and fibres.
  • Photonics packaging technologies

Eligibility

  • The Call for Proposals is open to any UK-based academic research group or individual. Proposals from disciplines other than photonics (e.g., chemistry, mechanical engineering, electronics) are welcome.

Criteria
Proposals will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • Novelty and technical risk
  • Alignment with Hub objectives – e.g. the development of photonics manufacturing technologies
  • Appropriateness of team including the role and contribution (e.g. direct cash and in-kind) of project partners

Funding levels available

Up to £250k* is available in this call. The funding can be either awarded to a single proposal or distributed among several proposals. It is planned that four additional calls will be announced in 2017-2020.
*at 100% Full Economic Cost (FEC), although 80% FEC will be funded

Duration of project

Projects can be of any duration, from a month to several years. Projects longer than one year in duration will be evaluated after the first year and renewed for a second year if appropriate objectives have been met (subject to review alongside proposals received that year). Proposals that require multi-year funding should briefly indicate a work plan for subsequent years.

Application process, requirements and assessment

A two-page proposal should be e-mailed to the Hub email address: contactus@photonicshubuk.org Proposals should be written in a minimum 11 point font size and include the project title, names of the investigators, project description, start date and expected duration, costs at Full Economic Cost (FEC) with manpower requirements and a breakdown of expenditure. Grants will be funded at 80% FEC and can support costs such as staff time, consumables, and travel to the project partners. Normal EPSRC rules concerning capital equipment apply.

Proposals should also contain an explanation of how the proposed work fits into the frame of the Future Photonics Hub and what added value it brings to a specific area of the programme. At the end of the project, a final report will be submitted to Future Photonics Hub Management Group highlighting the project outcomes and impact. Proposals will be assessed by the Future Photonics Hub Management Board with input from the Advisory Board. Awards will be confirmed upon acceptance of the non-negotiable Terms and Conditions set out in the Award Letter attached to this call.

For any questions relating to the application process, please email: contactus@photonicshubuk.org

Download this page information in pdf.

Schedule and deadline

  • Deadline for submission of proposals: Monday 7 November 2016
  • Notification of successful proposals: mid-December 2016

A future manufacturing research hub