Another year ends

30 12 2012

What a year 2012 turned out to be. Ben took the big step and didn’t just write his thesis, he then passed his viva and in the run up to Christmas got his pass list as well.

Thesis completed Ben Furnival

Ben’s completed thesis

That makes it 10 students completed so far and with Hassan finishing his corrections (number 11), that suggests that Amit will be number 12 when he finishes the last of the suggested comments and submits sometime in January.

In November I went to the IEEE Sensors conference in Taipei. Despite the perpetual rain (just like Newcastle but around 20 degrees warmer) and we got the chance for a trip to the top of Taipei 101. Unfortunately, it was dark by then and in the rain, the view was a bit muted. On the other hand, 400 engineers trying to view the damper ball at the top of the tower was well worth the trip!

Taipei 101 IEEE Sensors

View of Taipei 101

All three of our papers made it in this year, which is a massive achievement. This was enhanced when our paper on the effect of functionalisation on the performance of graphene sensors was voted the best paper in the ‘Gas and Chemical Sensors’ track and shortlisted for the overall first prize. We have also been invited to submit a more comprehensive version of the work to their ‘Best of IEEE Sensors 2012’ publication

graphene sensor IEEE solvent

Top billing for the Graphene Sensors talks

Loads more happened in 2012, including a really exciting development with the British Science Festival, so more soon!





Electronics, Sensors, Photonics KTN Meeting

3 05 2012

Just back from the Advances in wireless sensor networks for hostile environments meeting hosted by the Electronics, Sensors and Photonics KTN. A long day out from Newcastle (even though we are halfway up the UK) on the train, the event was held in the old LMS training facility.

Calidior Altior Durior

There was plenty of interest in our work and loads more of interest to think about, from ideas on the development of design rules for wireless sensor networks, to the challenges of instrumenting gas turbines and oil wells. The poster I presented can be downloaded from here as a full size (A0) pdf file KTN Poster





This week …

2 05 2012

More good news from Omid, his paper entitled ‘Design and Performance Evaluation of SiC MOSFET/JFET Based DC-DC Converters for PV Applications’ has been accepted at the upcoming 2012 IEEE Energy Conversion Congress and Exposition to be held in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. The reviewers have been very complimentary about the work and hopefully this will result in an oral presentation! As one of the most prestigious conferences in the field, the papers are linked to IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, which is arguably the place to publish research results in power electronics.

Monday saw the extended abstract deadline for the European Conference on Silicon Carbide and Related Materials (ECSCRM) 2012. We managed to get eight abstracts in for the deadline, which is no mean feat, covering almost the entire breadth of what we do, from graphene growth to the characterisation of oxide layers on SiC CMOS! Without time to catch our breath, the next deadline is Friday, the IEEE Sensors 2012 abstract deadline. This time, we are looking to submit three, graphene sensors, our SiC sensor array and recent work on self starting boost converters for powering sensor nodes.

Tomorrow sees me in Derby to give a presentation at the Electronics, Sensors and Photonics Knowledge Transfer Network meeting. Containing our results and vision for wireless sensor nodes, the slides can be downloaded from here KTN Talk – 3rd May 2012. I am also showing a poster outlining our work, which will hopefully attract lots of attention.





A week of contrasts

22 04 2012

The end of another week and this one has shown the usual ups and downs. Firstly, Sandip joined us to take up the PhD studentship on our EPSRC project on Monday. His first job was to write an abstract for the ECSCRM 2012 deadline, which was Friday the 20th of April. With eight abstracts being submitted by us this year, it was a relief when they extended the deadline to the 30th, as some people still hadn’t finished writing theirs by lunchtime on Friday.

My trip to the NMI meeting on Tuesday was great. Flying in a small, turbo prop plane in high winds and driving rain is never much fun, but the talk went well and I got to speak to a good number of interesting people. Hopefully some of these will translate into collaborations for the future. Just inside the MTC at Ansty (which is a spectacular looking building) is an amazing sight …

Bentley Le Mans Winner 2003

Wednesday brought an opportunity for a properly ‘techy day’, John and Anna from the Space Research Centre at Leicester University came to have a chat about our ongoing work developing Silicon Carbide radiation detectors. There’s plenty of scope here for some interesting developments in the future, so watch this space.

Finally, during one of the obligatory trips to a well known DIY store, it appears that the nice people at JCB know more about my dressing habits than I do …

JCB Alton Hoodie B&Q

I guess it is referring to Alton, a town in Staffordshire which is famous for an amusement park





National Microelectronics Institute

16 04 2012

Just finished my talk for tomorrows day out at the Manufacturing Technology Centre, hosted by the National Microelectronics Institute. It’s an opportunity to talk about the work we have been undertaking in power electronics using Silicon Carbide. It’s certainly interesting how rapid the change has been in this field, with efficiencies of over 95% now being reported. Our work is in the idea of novel topologies and gate drive circuits to enable SiC to move forward. Some of this work was presented by Omid at the PECI conference last month and won him the best paper award, so this is obviously a topical area! The presentation I am giving can be downloaded from here.

NMI Talk – 17th April 2012





The Hasselt Diamond Conference

10 04 2012

Amit has been off to the Hasselt Diamond Conference to showcase his work on the functionalisation of diamond surfaces, with a view to understanding their suitability for manufacturing thermionic converters. The key for this application is the realisation of a thermally stable, negative electron affinity surface, which will enhance the electron emission properties. This is an interesting challenge in three parts, the understanding of the surface, modelling the behaviour of two surfaces in close proximity and the non trivial engineering challenge of placing two atomically flat surfaces only a few nanometers apart in a vacuum. His work is a follow on to the paper we published in Physical Review B at the end of 2011 and includes some recent observations on metal terminated surfaces.

Hasselt Diamond conference functionalisation poster

It’s not all hard work at a conference though and Amit spotted a fantastic advert. It seems strange that a UK based company doesn’t use this type of advertising here …

Strongbow advert

Don’t know why, but for some reason, it appears that this image will only insert sideways …





Omid’s Conference

30 03 2012

In the middle of all the chaos of 2012, Omid has been to present his work on a Novel PWM Generator at the Power and Energy Conference at Illinois (PECI 2012) This was a fantastic success for him, with lots of people really interested in his work, which for the first time enables PWM signals to be generated in hostile environments. This will be a key enabling technology for the realisation of SiC converters for hostile environment and high power applications. On top of all that, he won the prize for the best presentation, a fantastic achievement.

PECI 2012 Winning presentation