Aston University is a public research university situated in the city centre of Birmingham, England. Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long-established research-led University known for its world-class teaching quality and strong links to industry, government and commerce. Over the last 20 years Aston has consistently been ranked as a top university for graduate employability: 51st in the World and 10th in the UK according QS Graduate Employability Rankings (Ref.2012).
Within Aston University, MEFISTA is coordinated by the Aston Institute of Photonics Technologies (AiPT). AiPT is one of the largest photonics research centres in the UK, with 90+ staff and grant funding amounting to €20M. AiPT counts over 60 patents, and its technology has created the foundations for direct exploitation of the intellectual property through spin-out companies. AiPT pursues a diverse range of device-and-system-level topics at the leading edge of technology. The AiPT pursues a diverse range of device-and-system-level topics at the leading edge of technology. The key research areas include high-speed optical transmission and processing, in fibre-based optical devices and components, nonlinear photonics, and in fibre optic sensors.
The AiPT Technologies pursues a diverse range of device-and-system-level topics at the leading edge of technology. The key research areas include high-speed optical transmission and processing, in fibre-based optical devices and components, nonlinear photonics, femtosecond laser material processing techniques, nano-photonics, fibre lasers, bio- and medical photonics, and in various fibre optic sensing applications. Underpinning these achievements is one of the strongest theoretical and advanced numerical modelling photonics research groups in the world. AiPT has an impressive portfolio of project funding, industrial and international collaborations, five spin-out companies, highly cited research papers and 60 patents, all demonstrating excellence in the field.
A feature of the research within AiPT – even the most fundamental – is the strong linkage with companies, either directly collaborating on a particular project or providing advice on the route to exploitation. Much of AiPT’s research is carried out in collaboration with industrial partners ranging from large companies to SMEs, covering industrial sectors including food, agriculture, healthcare, automotive and avionic.
Key research facilities, infrastructure and equipment
AiPT provides outstanding facilities and infrastructure that are ideally suited for research and trining activities across MEFISTA.
AiPT’s experimental work is carried out in 30 laboratories covering 1500 square metres. Facilities include two fibre re-circulating loops (10/40 Gbit/s), BERT (10/40Gbit/s), 3 major UV laser systems for the fabrication of fibre gratings; Class 10000 (locally 1000) cleanroom; 5 state-of-the-art fibre laser laboratories, environmental test chambers and a range of other equipment. A high-performance computer cluster is built with 28 Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2609 v2 @ 2.50GHz with 8 cores each. In summer 2016 the university plans to invest a further £7M to create a brand new 1800 square metre state of the art laboratory suite for the Institute, including laboratories dedicated to bringing industry and AiPT researchers together.