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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 TSB’s 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.

º  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 300–450°C. Such devices could be used future generations of rugged, efficient drives that need less cooling.

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