22 01 2013

As promised, here is the update for the exciting news in 2013.

At the end of 2012, we joined the space exploration project being run by JP Aerospace in California and launched some pongsats with our local scouts. We flew all kinds of stuff, from bouncy balls to a troll (don’t ask) in our balls, but perhaps the most interesting was the six axis solar intensity monitor. This was built by a work experience student, who managed to make it onto the BBC local news back in October. This was so successful, we got the bug and when we saw the ‘Ideas Take Flight‘ strapline for the upcoming British Science Festival, the thought was ‘how high?’

This has resulted in a big project, with some twenty teams developing cubesats to launch up to around 100,000 feet sometime in June

British Science Festival space cubesat ideas

Ideas Take Flight … to the Edge of Space

So far, we have held a big kick off event in the Discovery Museum and followed this up with visits to schools and this last week, schools visiting us. Next step, is that we need to think carefully about the circuitry before we all meet up again to squeeze it all in to a 2″ cube.

The last update for today, is that I received my new toy in the post yesterday. Molybdenum Disulphide, potentially the next graphene, is being touted as the next wonder material. A trip to the clean room tomorrow and hopefully we should be up and running in this exciting field by this time next week.

MoS2 Molybdenum Disulphide crystal 2D electronics

Natural Molybdenum Disulphide Crystals


Just how extreme is that … ?

3 12 2010

It’s been a bit quiet round here of late. The most obvious thing has been weather, which for a research group which works in high temperature electronics has been a bit of a surprise. The North East of England has had somewhere between 50cm of snow (that’s in the centre of Newcastle) to somewhere over 1.5m. On top of that it got down to about -17C last night (only -12C in the city …) On the plus side, it makes for nice views on your way to work

snow tyneside  newcastle sunrise

The sun rises on another snowy morning

The rest of the UK has had snow as well, although it seems that we have had more than our share. A really good image showing the extent of all this can be found on the BBC news page

In terms of the research, people are spending quite a lot of time in the burn in room, where the furnaces are running 24-7. Results from here indicate that our devices cope well with long term exposure to temperatures of 400 and 500C. Certainly the JFETs show a substantial reduction in gate leakage current after a few hours, which is then stable. This indicates that we should be well placed for running these devices in our target applications of volcanoes and jet engines.

For me, the next challenge is in completing the paperwork for the UKube mission. It’s ten pages and due in on Wednesday next week. The challenge at the moment is in terms of manpower. Although I have a decent sized team working for me, they all have a full time job already and the amount of work required to get this thing to fly (literally) might be too much. I suspect some form of outsourcing is going to be required, so if you are a wizard with an FPGA, live fairly close by and fancy joining in with this escapade, let me know! Having said that, it’s not just FPGA wizards wanted, anybody who is a competent electronic engineer, let us know!