Our licensing opportunities in Physical sciences are shown below.
This technology comprises a device geometry, based on the flexoelectric-optic effect in a chiral nematic liquid crystal, which is capable of linear multi-level phase modulation and frame rates in excess of several kHz. The multi-level phase modulation from these devices has potential for application in holographic projectors, optical correlators and adaptive optics.
By employing flexoelectric devices one can now modulatethe phase of light at frame rates well above those detected by the eye, thereby enabling improvement of image quality in holographic projectors as well as the implementation of real-time adaptive opthalmic imaging for high resolution diagnosis of retinal disease.
A small form-factor Liquid Crystal (LC) laser capable of tuneable colour or continuous wave (CW) lasing has been demonstrated, enabling one or more dynamically controllable laser outputs in any 2D pattern and any colour from a single pump source.
The technology, developed by Professor Harry Coles and his team in the Department of Engineering, uses software defined holograms on an LC modulator to vary the position of the pump laser beam. The pump beam then interacts either with an array of single colour LC laser cells or with a segmented array of different colour LC laser cells to produce either a spatially defined CW output or a coloured output, where the specific spatial arrangement or colour is determined by the pump hologram.
Since the hologram can be varied dynamically, the output can be tuned in lasing wavelength or spatial location without the need for lengthy reconfiguration of the system. Other benefits include improvements to LC laser lifetime, increased average power output and by combining both techniques the ability to generate multiple simultaneous laser emissions at the same or different wavelengths in a compact and portable laser module.
Printable electronics have to date been limited by the lower electron mobility and hence operation speed of organic materials compared to silicon, the production cost, processing requirements and performance of metal or carbon nanoparticle-based inks. Current generation transparent and electrically conductive layers are stiff and brittle and hence limit flexible electronic applications.
Professor Andrea Ferrari and his team in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge have developed a novel method of ink production based on layered nanomaterials such as graphene. This technology overcomes the issues of current printable inks and can be printed by various methods on flexible substrates.
Thermocouples for temperature measurement at high temperatures suffer drift over time due to atomic migration. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a thermocouple sheath of unique design which significantly reduces high temperature drift. This both improves the accuracy of temperature measurement, and increases the durability of thermocouples.
This technology is applicable in many sectors including power generation, aerospace, heat treatment (of aerospace and other components), and automotive (turbochargers). Cambridge Enterprise is already collaborating with manufacturers and is seeking licensees with channels to market in each sector.
Professor Ian White and members of his research team in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge have developed a technique for enabling simultaneous bi-directional transmission on standard multimode optical fibre. Signal rates of 10Gb/s have been demonstrated, resulting in an aggregate data rate of 20Gb/s without the need for multiple fibres. This also enables a duplex bi-directional optical link with an aggregate data rate of 40Gb/s.
This solution is protected by a granted US patent US8326157. CE would be interested to hear from companies looking to extend their data rates over multimode fibres in areas such as campus networks, data centres, storage area networks, enterprise LANs and other fields requiring high speed multimode fibre links.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed a digital signal processing solution which overcomes the current limitations of in-building wireless signal propagation for advanced services such as 3G and LTE. Most large buildings requiring improved in-building radio coverage, such as shopping malls and airports, are installing Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) which require dedicated high-specification infrastructure such as optical fibre, high linearity and dynamic range, and suffer from high energy consumption. Femtocells provide an alternative solution which avoid some of these issues but are still restricted to single service and fixed configurations.
The proposed digital DAS (DDAS) solution substantially compresses the data signals thereby reducing the infrastructure bandwidth requirement ultimately towards use of copper rather than optical fibre and also allowing multiple services (voice, data, video…) to be combined onto a single infrastructure. The use of DDAS also enables more flexible architectures, including per-service or per stream reconfigurability and remote service distribution for multiple buildings over a common infrastructure. This would allow easier upgrade and secure maintenance using software rather than the current hardware approach.
We are now looking for industrial partners to help us develop this technology further to exploit the exciting market opportunity which this technology presents.
Typically there is a trade-off to be made between the cost of an RFID tracking system and the coverage and tag locating capabilities which can be achieved. Most systems capable of reading tags with near 100% success rate over distances up to 100m require active tags to achieve their long range and high resolution location accuracy. Alternatively passive systems with cheaper tags, are limited to a reliable tag detection range of only a few meters.
Now researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed a system using passive tags and advanced signal processing which can achieve comparable tag detection performance to active tags at a lower cost point. This enables near 100% read success and has been demonstrated for asset tracking over a 20x20m2 area, although the system can readily scale to larger areas. The researchers have also demonstrated the potential of the technique for accurate real time location capabilities.
This technology is protected by patent applications in US, Europe and China, and is now ready for pilot commercial applications such as inventory and asset tracking and monitoring patient movement in hospitals.
Lenses with aspheric surfaces can have much lower spherical aberration than spherical lenses, especially for lenses whose focal length is short relative to their diameter, but they are much more difficult to manufacture. Currently aspheric lenses for very high volume applications (eg camera lenses) can be moulded, but for lower volume or very high accuracy applications (eg telescope lenses) they are manufactured by grinding and polishing, typically CNC multi-axis grinding. This invention uses a low-cost mechanical system and embodies copy-lathe type technology to grind highly aspheric lenses. The invention is protected by a UK patent application.
In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in vibration energy harvesting, especially to enable self-powered wireless sensor networks for structural health monitoring. While some early commercial solutions have witnessed increasing deployments, two of the key technical limitations still stubbornly persist; namely, the low power density relative to conventional power supplies and the mis-match between the narrow operational frequency bandwidth of conventional energy harvesters and the wideband nature of real vibrations. Researchers at the University are addressing these issues through employing vibration energy harvesting based on auto parametric resonance rather than the conventional approach of using the fundamental mode of resonance.
Conventional rigid lenses can only create changes in focal plane (focus) and focal length (zoom) by using multiple lens elements, often in multiple groups. However a single element flexible lens (typically made from liquids or polymers) can do this on its own. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a way of manufacturing ultra-low cost flexible lenses which are highly robust, with few if any moving parts, from non-toxic materials. These lenses should be suitable for a broad range of applications across different market sectors.
With the increasing demand for power converters and high power densities, and Silicon (Si) is reaching its theoretical limits, Silicon Carbide (SiC) is the object of a growing interest. It possesses several advantages over Si, among which: lower on resistance and operation at higher temperatures . This makes of SiC transistors, and more generally SiC power converters , the ideal candidates for use in hybrid and electric cars. Only one type of SiC transistor is close to commercial production: the Junction Field Effect Transistor (JFET). However, it is a normally- on device, i.e. it needs a negative voltage to be turned off. Therefore it needs protection when used in a circuit, as a fault in the driver power supply would turn on the JFET and possibly lead to short-circuits .
The invention proposes a way of solving the problem while retaining the advantages of using a SiC transistor. Therefore it does not add switching losses and does not impede the high temperature operation.
Bulk acoustic wave (BAW) sensors based on micromechanical systems (MEMS) offer significant advantages over quartz crystal microbalance (QCM); such as compact size, compatibility with electronics, lower power consumption, lower cost and higher reliability. However, their wide application to real-world detection remains limited by the temperature-dependence of their performance. Recently researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a novel Film Bulk Acoustic Resonator (FBAR) device which has the potential to overcome this limitation by enabling the simultaneous measurement of temperature and mass loading in a single device without increasing their size or adding complexity to the electronics. Through the use of a novel multi-layer device structure and electrode materials, temperature self-referenced FBAR resonators with high operating frequencies (~1-2 GHz) and world-leading Q-factors (>1500) have been produced paving the way for real-world monitoring using FBAR sensors.
Key potential benefits:
Parallel sensing of several physical variables within the same unit sensor
Small size (around 150μm × 150μm)
Ultrahigh sensitivity ( in range of 10-14 to 10-15g)
Tuneable frequency of actuation (suitable for >1 GHz applications)
Standard telecom WDM networks require tight alignment of transmitter wavelength and receiver filter to ensure adequate performance (signal-to-noise ratio) – especially as data rates increase. To avoid the effects of laser wavelength thermal drift, high-performance transmitters utilise expensive Thermo-Electric Coolers (TECs) to hold the laser temperature steady, or wavelength lockers based on filters and feedback loops, with their associated increased capital and operating costs.
Our technology enables the use of lower cost uncooled transmitters without sacrificing channel spacing, by utilising electrical signal processing at the receiver based on MIMO techniques. 100 Gb/s transmission has been experimentally demonstrated with an 8 channel 100GHz grid, with the associated simulations supporting predictions of scalability to higher channel counts and bitrates.
Without using dyes or other applied colourants, polymer opals reflect specific colours due to their physical structure. By choosing the spacing of tiny polymer spheres which make up the material, the colour can be tailored to any colour in the rainbow. Stretching the material changes that spacing – and also the colour. So a sample of polymer opal material might stretch from red to green and then blue, reversibly relaxing back to its original colour. Colour changes can even be localised to reveal a pattern such as a logo on stretching.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge, working with colleagues at the LBF Fraunhofer Institute in Darmstadt (formerly DKI), have developed this material system and its manufacturing process so that polymer opals can now be produced in an industrially scalable way and laminated simply onto any appropriate substrate, including fabric, for applications such as security, brand protection and clothing. We are now actively seeking a partner to take this process to the next stage and would welcome contact from companies with interest or experience in this area.
Please see the linked documents for technical information and a more visual demonstration of polymer opals’ colour behaviour.
Consumer demand for higher brightness, higher resolution and lower power consumption are key requirements driving the developments of next generation liquid crystal displays. Researchers at Cambridge University have developed a new display mode based on short-pitch chiral nematics, that not only achieves switching times sufficiently fast to allow provision of frame sequential colour and hence elimination of absorbing colour filters, but also provides wide viewing angles and high contrast ratios to be achieved.
More information on this technology can be found on the website.
Recordings of speakers with ‘Standard Southern British English’ pronunciation have been collected and transcribed orthographically by researchers in the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge.
The database was recorded with forensic phonetic research in mind, but serves very generally as an extensive source of contemporary spoken English. It comprises studio quality recordings of 100 male speakers aged 18-25 performing four tasks involving different speaking styles: taking part in a simulated police interview, making a telephone call with an “accomplice” (recorded simultaneously and over the public telephone network), reading a passage, and reading a set of sentences.
Compared to alternative databases of comparable size, this database provides, for a tightly homogeneous population of speakers, a spectrum of speaking styles with a substantial number of words and phrases (elicited by design) in common. It is expected to be of interest to companies involved in a variety of speech technologies, and is available to license from the Economic and Social Data Service.
The next generation of "smart" materials will require molecular self-assembly to achieve the high degrees of functionality and complexity that are required for a wide range of applications such as heat absorbers, self-healing paints, optical sensors and drug delivery mechanisms.
Professor Chris Abell and Dr. Oren Scherman have developed a new technique for manufacturing such functional materials in large volumes, using supramolecular, stimuli-responsive polymers.
Aqueous microfluidic droplets dispersed in oil are used as templates for building discrete supramolecular assemblies. These assemblies form highly uniform microcapsule structures, the shells of which can be tailored to enable and monitor, passive or active release of encapsulated contents to meet a range of market needs.
Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) is an ultra-sensitive, non-destructive spectroscopic technique that enables characterisation and identification of molecules for a wide variety of potential applications including environmental sensing, forensic analysis and medical diagnosis. It potentially replaces fluorescence techniques due to its photon yield, lack of bleaching and label-free molecular signatures.
Wide adoption of SERS-based techniques remains, however, limited by lack of reproducibility and reusability of the SERS substrates. Recently, scientists at Cambridge University developed a novel approach, based on cucurbiturils, that has the potential to dramatically improve the usability of SERS-based techniques.
By accurately controlling the gaps between aggregates of metal nanoparticles using cucurbilturils as rigid sub-nanometre ‘cages’, analyte molecules can be held in the intense electric field regions between the nanoparticles providing the possibility of reliable, highly sensitive, molecular recognition based on SERS. Not only does this technique open up the possibility of using SERS to identify single molecules that have no affinity for metal surfaces, it is also potentially self-calibrating due to the Raman-activity of the cucurbituril spacer molecules themselves and reusable due to the triggered release of analyte molecules from the cucurbilturil ‘cages’ by chemical, photo-initiation or thermal means.
Nanoporous materials have many applications including the formation of high surface area electrodes that increase the efficiency of fuel cells, photovoltaics, OLED devices and membrane separation technologies, such as desalination.
The main advantage of these materials is that they can be bicontinuous, which means that the porous portions of the material are completely accessible. Currently it is difficult to create such a structure in a controlled manner, as this requires controlled chemistry and long processing times.
This novel invention is a robust method of creating nanoporous materials from copolymeric systems. Through the application of the UV radiation. cross-linking and photodegradation convert an initially spherical, micellar system into a bicontinuous matrix of polymer and voids.
The resulting template can be used as-is or can, with further, simple chemical transformations, be converted into inorganic nanoporous materials that have other exotic functionalities such as water splitting, tunable magnetoelectric properties, and high surface area electrodes.
A method for forming small catalytic nanoparticles at high densities over a substrate to serve as nuclei for the growth of carbon nanotubes (or CNTs). The inventors have experimentally grown CNTs with densities of 5•1012 cm-12 (five times greater than the closest rival technology), and expect that arrays of CNTs with densities of 1013 cm-2 or higher can be grown using this method.
Researchers in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge have discovered a novel method of fuelling nuclear reactors which enables the virtual elimination of long lived highly radioactive waste. The fuel is a mixture of Thorium and existing waste, which is fed into either an existing Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) or a new reactor built to the proven PWR or Reduced Moderation Water Reactor design. The reactor availability and the fuel reprocessing requirements are expected to be similar to that of existing operating reactors, with the significant benefit of removing highly radioactive material from the environment. This method also provides a way to exploit the planet's considerable Thorium resources using existing well-proven reactor technology.
A new process has been developed that has the potential to transform the lead battery recycling industry. The method uses organic reagents (derived from renewable bio-sources) to recycle the lead-bearing paste from waste batteries into a form which can be used directly as the lead oxide precursor for manufacturing new lead battery paste. This method has considerable benefits over the high temperature methods that are conventionally used to recycle lead battery paste into metallic lead.
A unique polarisation control system utilising the flexoelectric effect exhibited by chiral nematic liquid crystals responding rapidly (100µs to 1ms) under the influence of an externally applied electric field.
The system provides switching angles of over 90 degrees, stable materials over wide operating temperature ranges, and precise control of polarisation state.
These characteristics make the system ideal for use in polarisation controllers to reduce the effects of polarisation mode dispersion (PMD), endless polarisation controllers, optical routers, and liquid-crystal displays.
The 'Inerter' is a novel passive device which allows designers of ride-control and suspension/damping systems the ability to realise performance levels that were previously only possible with actively controlled architectures. The device may be used on its own or in conjunction with traditional ride-control building blocks, to allow the designer cheap and simple, passive access to the full range of suspension characteristics. The device promises improvements over traditional technologies in areas such as passenger comfort, heavy vehicles dynamics and the handling of high-performance vehicles.
A manufacturing process for embedding multiple parallel micro-capillaries into flat, flexible polymer tapes and films has been developed. Application areas include chemical and biochemical analysis, medical applications, heat exchangers and pressure sensing applications.
The shape and size of these micro-capillaries can be easily controlled, ranging in diameter from 5 to 500 microns, and having circular, elliptical or diamond cross-sections, allowing transport of liquids or gases at pressures as high as 50 bar. The capillary walls can also be designed to be semi-permeable or catalytic.
Enhancement of critical current densities by an order of magnitude in YBCO in self fields or applied fields with no lowering of the critical temperature. The enhancement, by incorporating rare earth tantalates into the YBCO, is effective even in thick films and over wide angular ranges of applied field.
Gaussian Approximation Potential (GAP) is a novel atomistic modelling technique that combines accuracy with speed. By inferring the energy of an atom from the position and identity of its neighbours using a precomputed database of exact quantum mechanical solutions, the potential energy surface of a system of atoms and molecules is approximated.
This methodology allows a controllable compromise to be made between the accuracy of Quantum Chemistry models and the speed of Interatomic Potential methods, with applications in a diverse range of fields including pharmaceuticals, aerospace, electronics and biotechnology.