The University of Southampton

Southampton wins £6 million grant for research into new generation of photonic materials

Published: 2 April 2009

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has awarded the University of Southampton £6 million to establish a centre for nanostructured photonic metamaterials.  

Metamaterial is a manmade media with all sorts of unusual and useful functionalities that can be achieved by artificial structuring smaller than the length scale of the external stimulus. The grant will fund an innovative and interdisciplinary research programme over the next six years, with the aim of developing a new generation of switchable and active nanostructured photonic media and create a world-leading centre of research on Nanostructured Photonic Metamaterials at Southampton. 

The programme is led by Professor Nikolay Zheludev, Deputy Director of the University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), and its multidisciplinary team of investigators includes Professor Peter Ashburn of the University’s School of Electronics and Computer Science; Dr Janne Ruostekoski, School of Mathematics; Professor Peter de Groot, School of Physics and Astronomy; and Professor Rob Eason, Professor Daniel Hewak, and Dr Vassili Fedotov from the ORC.  

The new grant is an important step for the Nano-portfolio partnership between EPRSC and the University that was formed in 2004. 

Professor Zheludev says: “Over the last twenty years photonics and its dependence on new and improved photonic materials has has played a key role in creating the world as we know it, with enormous worldwide beneficial social impact. Today it is impossible to imagine modern society without the globe-spanning broadband internet and mobile telephony made possible by the implementation of optical fibre core networks, optical disc data storage (underpinned by the development of compact semiconductor lasers), modern image display technologies, and laser-assisted manufacturing.  

“We now anticipate that the next photonic revolution will continue to grow, explosively fuelled by a new dependence upon photonic metamaterials. Metamaterials are artificial electromagnetic media with unusual and useful functionalities achieved by structuring at the nano-scale. The EPSRC Programme will be crucial to maintain the word-leading research in what is a very rapidly developing branch of modern science and technology.” 

The University’s new multimillion pound Mountbatten Building with its state-of–the-art cleanroom and laboratory complex will be essential to the programme. 

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