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UK researchers collaborate on next-generation encoders

14 August, 2008

A group of UK researchers is working on a collaborative, government-backed project to develop a technology for manufacturing precision optical encoders rapidly. The Next-GEM (Next Generation Encoder Manufacture) project is being led by Renishaw, with Heriot-Watt University and Compound Semiconductor Technologies as partners.

The team hopes to develop a novel method for making diffractive scales with much finer features, at a much higher rate of production than current technologies allow.

The Next-GEM project is benefitting from a recently announced 20m injection from the Government to help UK manufacturers to stay ahead of their global competitors. The investment, made via the Government-sponsored Technology Strategy Board (TSB), is being used to support research to develop technologies, products and systems that incorporate "clever" technology. The Government contribution will be matched by private-sector contributions, taking the value of the supported projects to more than 40m.

Since 2004, the TSBs Collaborative Research and Development Programme has supported around 700 projects across 40 technology areas, with a combined investment by business and Government worth more than 1bn. Other projects being supported by the latest round of funding include a health management system for wind turbine transmissions, and a development for intelligently managing electrical power systems.

  The TSB is also investing more than 10m with the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council in 16 collaborative r&d projects on new materials, including one aiming to develop high-temperature silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductors for energy applications. The project, led by Raytheon Systems working with researchers from the University of Strathclyde, is attempting to develop a method for designing and manufacturing SiC devices that will operate from 300450C. Such devices could be used future generations of rugged, efficient drives that need less cooling.

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