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Research Groups

Our ambition of transforming the utilisation of the THz part of the electromagnetic spectrum requires the assembly of a large, integrated, interdisciplinary team, having the track record and research facilities to pursue research which draws on a comprehensive technology base, and then use the flexibility of the Programme grant to focus resources on the most promising solutions necessary to fulfill our vision.

 

Bringing together the world leading team envisaged for this Programme to address a common challenge will create a remarkably rich research environment that will attract outstanding young researchers to the field, who  will grow to be future leaders in science and engineering. The Programme will also provide an ideal training environment for students from our Centres for Doctoral Training, as well as more generally.

Leeds and Cambridge are the two internationally-leading centres for THz QCL growth. Furthermore, Leeds has the largest university THz activity in Europe/Asia, with a 150 m2 THz photonics laboratory, and an international expertise in the development and applications of both QCLs and time-domain spectroscopy systems – both free-space and guided wave. This is complemented by UCL’s internationally-leading position in integrated  photonic systems, coherent technology, communications and microwave/THz spectroscopy. We bring together this comprehensive capability from materials through physics to engineering to address challenges ranging from ultrabroadband communications (UCL EEE) to coherent THz imaging (Leeds) and atomic state manipulation leading to new modes of information processing (UCL LCN). Specifically ultrabroadband communications, T4.1 requires technology from P1 and P2, state-manipulation, while both T4.2 information processing and T4.3 imaging require technology from P1, P2 and P3. The Programme approach ensures that we not only have a range of underpinning technologies available broad enough for us to select the best possible solutions to these demanding research challenges, but also that the coherent THz capability developed will be precisely matched to applications need.

The critical mass, flexibility and funding stability afforded through the Programme grant mechanism will enable us to overcome the large technological uncertainties and challenges inherent in trying to create a coherent technology for the THz spectrum. It is an approach that cannot be realised by separate responsive mode projects, which would simply be too narrow in remit and would not have the critical mass required to deliver the new components and systems needed to make such a radical advance. Furthermore, through close coupling  between underpinning technology and applications development research, we can embed the translational aspects of our work into the scientific and engineering research from the outset. This will enable us to achieve our vision far more rapidly than would be possible in individual projects addressing particular envisaged solutions, which may or may not prove viable.

The Programme will allow rapid steering of resources between fields as the projects require, enabling a  synergistic and strategic partnership to develop between the research groups. The strong coupling between projects, with applications setting technology goals and the flexibility to take up promising new technological approaches as they arise from our own research, or outside developments, will enable research to progress far more rapidly than through the responsive mode funding cycle. Our Programme management approach, with a rolling two year forward-planning horizon, the use of Stage Gating and the reservation of 40% of PDRA effort for flexible deployment in Years 4 and 5 will take full advantage of the flexibility provided by the programme grant mechanism. Risk management is also greatly assisted since failing research approaches can be discontinued rapidly and replaced with more promising alternatives.

The five-year duration of this Programme allows us the capacity to investigate technology options in sufficient depth to make informed choices and then to demonstrate the applications potential of the chosen solutions. It will also enable strategic and flexible targeting of smaller research projects to follow new ideas, initiatives and directions arising during the Programme to maximise Impact and return on the EPSRC investment. As can be seen from the strong Project Partner commitment – over £1m – a large co-ordinated Programme directed towards a research ambition that, if successful, will have transformative effect is attractive to Partners in a way that a collection of responsive mode grants addressing various aspects of the problem cannot be, thus offering the potential for greatly increased Impact.