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This includes the creation and characterisation of nano-electronic systems and the study of bio-inspired devices, which borrows evolutionary solutions from the natural world and applies them in the design and creation of emerging technologies. Current research topics include functional materials and nanophotonics, spintronics, quantum and memristive devices, lab-on-a-chip, and MEMS/NEMS devices.
We focus on solving real-world problems using manufacturing techniques that are compatible with today’s commercial techniques. For example, to manufacture memristors, we use nano-imprint lithography to achieve small feature sizes down to 1nm, quickly, reliably and at a relatively low cost. These memristors are the building blocks for computer chips that, like the brain, can process and store information using the same hardware. They will lead to computers that are more powerful, faster and smaller than today’s systems.
Cutting-edge and novel fabrication and characterisation techniques are core to the research of the group and our researchers are pushing the boundaries of the equipment and processes used in the Zepler Institute’s cleanroom facility. These include the Southampton Nanofabrication Centre and its specialised rapid prototyping facility. We also have access to the Wolfson Laboratory for Hybrid Biodevices which is designed, among other applications, for analysing clinical samples, culturing biological organisms, and performing chemical biofunctionalization reactions.
World-class facilities such as these make it possible for us to innovate. For example, we are developing a lab-on-a-chip system that can help GPs quickly decide which antibiotics to give a patient. The device, which uses thin-film transistor technology found in most television or computer displays, can tell a GP whether the bacteria causing the infection are resistant to certain antibiotics. The chip turns a test that would take days to carry out in a specialised laboratory, into a 10-minute test that can be carried out by the GP. This device is based on technology more commonly used to make consumer electronic devices such as displays and televisions. We are also adapting manufacturing techniques for printed-circuit boards (PCBs), and combining these with microfluidic channels to make a low-cost real-time protein detection for clinical applications.
Other intelligent micro-systems that we are developing include those capable of operating in harsh and demanding environments including marine, space and nuclear facilities. We are also exploiting opportunities in developing complex microsystems for environmental and medical monitoring, two areas which share many common technological challenges.
We thrive on overcoming challenges such as these, so contact us to find out how we can work together and apply our interdisciplinary knowledge to innovate.
For more information on our current projects please visit www.nano.ecs.soton.ac.uk