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RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy

Research in the School of Engineering and Information Technology (EIT) is focussed within six Centres, all of which have well defined research strategies. During the assessment period, they have maintained a high level of success in terms of publishing, attracting research funds and gaining further international recognition. There are excellent prospects for further significant growth within these Centres, with respect to both income generation and publication output.
The Centre for Industrial Informatics and Manufacturing Systems Research Centre (IIMS) was created in 1995 in response to the Technology Foresight programme and is strongly linked to industry. It incorporates the South East Advanced Technology Hub (SEATH). The Electrical, Electronic Engineering and Communications Research Centre (EECRC) comprises three sub-groups. The work of the Physical Electronics and Instrumentation Group ranges from the study of quantum devices and circuits to the development of very low noise instrumentation and signal processing. The Communication Engineering Group focuses on experimental design, simulation and verification of communication systems. The Power Electronic Control and Condition Monitoring Group study motor control, magnetic bearings, eddy current levitation combined with linear induction motor propulsion, active mains harmonic filtering and condition monitoring for fluid flow systems. The Non-linear Dynamics and Control Research Centre (NLDCRC) is concerned with the development of novel analysis and design techniques in the areas of control, vibrations and stochastic system characterisation. Many of these techniques are concerned with the modelling, identification and control of non-linear systems or the use of non-linear techniques in design. The Space and Optical Science Research Centre (SOSRC) includes two sub-groups: The Space Science Centre combines general research into space instrumentation techniques and theoretical modelling of space plasma phenomena with participation in various international spacecraft and rocket missions. The Optical Science Research Group (transferred from Physics in 1997) has made highly innovative advances in ion implantation, photonics and luminescence research on insulating materials. The Thermo-fluid Mechanics Research Centre (TFMRC) is the designated Rolls-Royce (RR) University Technology Centre (UTC) for Aero-Thermal Systems: although the primary external allegiance of the Centre is to RR, work is also undertaken for other companies who are not their direct competitors. The VLSI and Computer Graphics Centre (VCGC) is focused on the design and development of novel high performance computer graphics rendering architectures, ASIC design, virtual reality and virtual environments, with strong support from a range of European companies.

The Graduate Research Centre (GRC), in EIT, has responsibility for (a) the formulation of research strategy (b) the development and monitoring of all research activity and student progress, (c) the initiation, development and delivery of postgraduate taught course programmes, (d) all aspects of recruitment for both research and PGT study and (e) all matters relating to postgraduate progress and welfare. The GRC is led by a Director (Professor Gough) and administered by a Research and Graduate Studies Committee (RGSC), the members of which are the Research Group Leaders/Professors and postgraduate officers/convenors. The RGSC, in consultation with the Dean, regularly reviews progress on improving publication output, research income and postgraduate recruitment. A primary aim is to strengthen and enlarge the research base by encouraging growth within existing groups and by seeking to develop new, promising areas.

Resources are provided from School funds, administered by a Dean's Committee: these include computing infrastructure (hardware, software licenses), workshop facilities (mechanical and electrical/electronic), and matching funds for pump-priming projects (£340k in the assessment period). There are 28 technical staff and 11 administrative/secretarial staff. Eight new academic faculty appointments have been made in the review period (Budgett, Hills, Mania, Newbury, Stipidis, Stobart, Wang, Watten) to inject new blood into the GRC and to ensure that the momentum of the research growth is maintained, following the departure of six staff, primarily to industry and overseas academic institutions (Dunnett, Heyward, McNeill, Morse, Peyton Jones, Thomas DR). Three "retired" professors remain highly active (Atherton, Grimsdale, Jayawant).

As a result of heavy investment in the School research infrastructure during the assessment period there are now excellent research facilities to support all six centres. Exceptional facilities include (a) In the IIMS Centre: a class 10,000 Clean Room containing two high power pulsed/cw lasers (8kW CO2 and 3kW CO) and 1kW MFK CO2 laser system; a Class 1000 Clean Room containing a state-of-the-art excimer laser micro-machining system; a class 100 Clean Room with workstations for electronics and photonics chemical processing (b) Within the TFMRC: 5 test cells, a workshop and a range of experimental facilities including a RR Dart gas turbine (3000hp) driven compressor, delivering a continuous air supply of 3 bar at 10kg/s. (c) The Optical Science group use a dedicated ion beam facility building, incorporating a 3MeV Van de Graff accelerator, for ion implantation and luminescence studies. There is also a high current multi-ion Whickham implanter, for surface modification and photonic device development, and a wavelength multiplexed photon imaging detector for thermoluminescence studies. (d) For the work of the VCGC a successful JREI bid, in collaboration with other Science Schools at Sussex, for High Performance Computing has allowed more efficient implementation of photorealistic rendering, e.g. ray tracing and radiosity solutions. Sponsorship by Silicon Graphics International, Trimension and the University of Sussex has enhanced this facility with an Advanced Visualisation Laboratory including ten O2 workstations and projective display equipment.

Staff development
Special attention is paid to the research needs of younger faculty, especially those newly embarking on an academic career. The School has a policy that new faculty will contribute towards the research activities of one of the six Research Centres. Membership of a Research Centre ensures that they receive adequate support and advice, in matters relating to research supervision, seeking research funding, publication, etc. In addition each new faculty member has a mentor, who carefully monitors their progress. Younger faculty, in particular, are strongly encouraged to publish in international journals and also to make contributions to Conferences, as a means of establishing international contacts. Pump-priming support is available from School funds, including the provision of bursaries for postgraduate students to work with younger faculty.

Research Groups
Details of research activities in each Centre are as follows (funding sources in brackets; amounts refer to the value of contracts and grants for work undertaken during the review period): * indicates new appointments and ^ denotes people who have left, in the assessment period.

IMMS - Chatwin (Director), Young, Richardson, Budgett*, Heywood^.
The Centre is conducting research into the following areas:
(a) Laser Materials Processing and Surface Engineering. Studies of cutting and drilling techniques, hard facing of substrate materials with nano-phase and glassy metals, coating via stoichiometric pulsed laser deposition, cleaning and di-oxidising; micromachining: fundamental studies and simulation of ablation and heating interaction processes. Two major laser systems have been purchased (HEFCE/Industry £1.2m). (b) Electro-optics & Optical Engineering: Investigations of photo-refractive holography, four wave mixing, spatial light modulators, dynamic light shaping elements, phase modulating spatial light modulators for kinoforms, optical pattern recognition, hybrid optical computing, optical filtering, uses of partial coherence, electo-optic systems design (2 EPSRC contracts: total £574k). A fully complex optical filter has been written onto a spatial modulator used for object recognition in both a hybrid and an all-optical coherent correlator: this is a world first. (c) Machine Vision: Image processing integrated with computer aided quality control via CAD. Algorithm development includes a wide range of techniques suitable for DSP or hybrid optical/digital implementations, rapid reconstruction of computer assisted tomography data for non-destructive testing, the use of field programmable gate arrays (FPGA’s) for various high speed image processing tasks (EPSRC £498k). (d) Industrial Informatics: Studies of distributed data bases, intelligent agents, knowledge based systems, decision support systems, fault diagnosis and identification, fuzzy control, neural networks, Petri-net modelling of discrete-event dynamic systems, optimal route scheduling of FMS CAD/CAE/CAM, CIM, agent based plant scheduling. (e) Manufacturing Systems, Processes and Time Compression Technologies: Research on materials processing and surface engineering, stereo-lithography, laminated object manufacture, electrical machining methods, new assembly and joining methods, rapid prototyping and tooling, laser bending (HEROBAC £35k, EU £236k). Another world first was achieved in building microcomponents using ‘micro-stereolithography’, whereby a spatial light modulator is illuminated by a UV laser beam.
A major achievement for the IIMS Research Centre is the creation, in 1999, of the South East Advanced Technology Hub (SEATH): This is supported by local Industry and the DTI through Sussex Enterprise (SE). The Hub is committed to technology transfer and close collaboration with Industry. Associated projects include: (a) the development of internet server software for the SE ‘company capabilities database’, to improve local companies networking and supply chains, and raise the visibility of SE sector managers (SE, Interegg); (b) factory monitoring, scheduling, and control via wide area IP networks; (c) stereolithographic rapid prototyping systems, used by local companies to realise a wide variety of products in automotive, agriculture, aerospace, electronics and medical markets. Total new funds received by the Research Centre in the assessment period: £4.0m

Physical Electronics and Instrumentation Group - Clark, Prance H, Prance R. Work on squid rings is directed to experimentally controlling quantum coherence in these rings, and superconducting circuits built from them. It has been shown that the underlying behaviour of squid rings causes a growth of non-linear dynamical behaviour: this is a significant advance in the development of quantum circuits. Major progress has also been made in modelling superconducting weak link circuits (e.g. involving SQUID rings) for application in quantum computing and encryption. (EPSRC £236k, NESTA £131k). Research on quantum circuits has generated expertise in the design and construction of ultra low noise electronic circuits, able to operate at radio frequencies (RF) and allowing an expansion into many areas, such as non-invasive sensing. Recent advances made by the group in non-invasive sensing of the electrical signals generated in the human body are set to significantly advance the field, starting with ECG measurements (DERA £48k, EPSRC £321k, Quantum Magnetics Inc. £181k).

Communication Engineering Group - Powner, Ali, Stipidis*. The Communication Engineering Group focuses on experimental design, simulation, and verification of communication systems. Both computer data and wireless communications and verification of prototype implementations are studied. Current experimental programmes are in the areas of networks (ATM, CAN, Ethernet), reconfigurable systems, real-time deterministic systems, Multiple Access/User Wireless Communications (CDMA, CV-CCMA, 3G), Wireless Local Area Networks (Bluetooth, ATM, Ethernet, CAN), Automotive (vehicle electronics), intelligent systems, and Positioning Systems (GPS, DR, 2G/3G Triangulation). Industrial partners include DERA, Infineon Technologies, Altek Technologies, Infrastructure USA, and Ericsson. Success is demonstrated by more than 70 refereed journal and conference publications, the number of researchers (25 national and international students) and industrial support (£100k)
Power Electronic Control & Condition Monitoring Group - Jayawant, Unsworth, Wang*. Current projects include: (a) Development of permanent magnet bearings to support high energy, low speed flywheels. This work involves rotor dynamics, finite element modeling, aerodynamic losses and secure containment for operation in remote locations. It is intended to operate multiple flywheels in parallel with wind turbines/stator generators and there remain significant overall system control aspects to be resolved. This work is internationally based with partners in Italy, Greece, Scotland and England (EU £106k). (b) Electromagnetic levitation and LIM propulsion systems are being developed for platforms carrying satellites and space shuttles, thus forming a recoverable and reusable first stage of launch systems. This work involves simulation, finite element modelling of the electromagnetic elements as well as dynamic modelling and control aspects of the platform and its load. (NASA £277k). (c) Work continues on the development of soft-starters for induction motors. Unsworth designed soft-starters are presently market leaders in the USA, and have received awards from Eaton Corporation USA (2000). Current funding from Eaton (£332k) also funds work on Active Mains Harmonic Filtering, where an innovative modular system is being commercialised, and Unity Power Factor DC Bus Supplies for Motor Control Centres. (d) Systems are being developed for condition monitoring and failure prediction in industrial induction motors, motor driven pumps, and flowmeters. For motors and pumps, the diagnostic information is obtained from noise present in the drive motor current, and digital signal processing is used to extract signatures for faults, which can be diagnosed at an early stage before they cause catastrophic breakdown. (e) For flowmeters new approaches are under development to improve the accuracy of two-phase flow measurement, using data in signal noise: this is funded by Rockwell Automation USA (£390k) and DTI (£186k) with equipment from HMD Pumps and Alpha-Laval.
Total new funds received by the Research Centre in the assessment period: £3.6m.

NLDCRC - Roberts (Director), Atherton, Dunne, Yang, Stobart*, Thomas DR^, Peyton Jones^.
The work of the Centre is focused on non-linear analysis and design methods with applications to controller tuning in the process industries, target tracking, power systems and marine and automotive systems. The theoretical contributions of the group have been realised in the form of user-friendly software tools. Projects include:
(a) The PI-PD implementation of a PID controller which gives greatly improved performance with certain difficult processes, including unstable ones, compared to the conventional PID controller. The additional P term is often easily implemented using standard PID controllers and a technique using relay autotuning to find the controller parameters has been proposed. Further investigations of PID relay autotuning have been obtained to compare results based on an approximate describing function method and the exact limit cycle analysis method both for conventional applications and also in the Smith predictor implementation. Theoretical contributions have been made to techniques for the design of classical controllers using new standard forms with a zero and to the study of the robustness of system performance to parameter variations. (b) Work on target tracking, in collaboration with the School of Mathematical Sciences at Sussex, has led to the development of novel algorithms (EPSRC, DERA, BAE £150k) and currently involves links with two BAE Systems groups and a co-operation with Ankara University, supported by the British Council. (c) The application of advanced control theory to solve power system engineering problems is being studied; in particular a new concept of "quasi-decentralised control“ is being applied to power system stabiliser design, in collaboration with the National Grid Company. (d) In the automotive area a major project has been concerned with the formulation of dynamic models for predicting the transient performance of automotive catalytic converters, using non-linear system identification techniques (EPSRC, Ford, Rover, Ricardo, Johnson Matthey and Sagem, £307k). This has required the construction of an entirely new engine test facility, and the use of fast response emissions measuring equipment. Based on an innovative analysis of experimental emissions data, using non-linear system identification techniques, new oxygen storage models have been proposed, with application to on-board diagnostics. (e) A novel approach to cyclic variations in petrol engine cylinder pressure data has been developed, enabling such data to be characterised very compactly in terms of a stochastic process model (EPSRC £110k). (f) An improved damper modelling approach has been developed using neural networks, to enable better design, control, and tuning of vehicle suspension systems, in collaboration with Daewoo. The study has shown, using real twin-tube damper data, that the neural network approach is very much superior to the use of physical models. (g) Work on the stochastic identification of structural systems with unmeasurable inputs has continued (EU £64k). This has applications to the health monitoring of structures responding to random environmental loading, such as the wave loading experienced by offshore structures. It has been shown for the first time that higher order spectra can be used to generate non-linear system parameter estimates alongside estimates of the excitation power spectrum. Extensions to include the estimation of non-Gaussian excitation processes have been proposed. (h) An entirely new method, based on the use of Markov process theory, has been developed for estimating parameters relating to ship roll motion: this has major advantages for more general structural systems with stochastic, unmeasurable excitation. Work is also proceeding on the stability analysis of aeroelastic systems (EU–INTAS)), in collaboration with Moscow University and the National Technical University of Athens. In addition there has been significant progress in the application of harmonic balancing techniques to predict the non-linear rolling motion of ships in waves. (i) New methods for efficiently predicting extreme values in randomly forced non-linear structures, using both physical and statistical models for fatigue and delamination assessment in aerospace structures, have been formulated. Work continues on the use of these approaches in vibration-based health and utility monitoring systems for damage tolerant aerospace structures.
Total new funds received by the Research Centre in the assessment period: £1.0m.

Space Science Centre - Gough, Rijnbeek.
(a) The Centre has produced instruments flown on: NASA Shuttle STS-75 (1996); International/French/Russian Mars-96 (1996); NASA sounding rockets flown from Svalbard (1997); the NASA LaTur sounding rocket from Puerto Rico (1998); and the European Space Agency Cluster-II mission (2000). (b) It is involved in the Cluster Wave Experiment Consortium (primarily a consortium to produce five instruments from French, Scandinavian, UK, and US Institutes). Sussex provides particle correlators, data extraction software and the Electrical Ground Checkout Equipment used for test and functional verification at all levels of experiment development. Current activities include further developments of space instrumentation techniques, theoretical modelling of space plasma phenomena, a continuous analysis of existing mission space datasets and related ground-based auroral video recordings. (c) Instrumentation techniques developed at Sussex have led to significant achievements including the first direct measurements of wave-particle interactions resulting from active electron beam and active wave emissions in the near-Earth space plasma and the first use of an ANN within space instruments for real-time data analysis. Related spin-off space technology is being marketed in collaboration with JRA Technology. One algorithm, the Associative List Memory (ALM) has been shown to provide superior diagnostic pattern recognition compared with other unsupervised networks. Major gains in processing speed (>103) have been achieved by implementing complex algorithms completely in hardware. (PPARC £1.4m)

Optical Science Group - Townsend, Hole.
(a) Implantation efforts for ion beam modification of insulator surfaces have been extremely successful for objectives as diverse as forming optical waveguides, waveguide lasers and non-linear optics. Studies have been made of: (i) the efficient upconversion in Er:YAG and second harmonic generation in LiNbO3 ion implanted waveguides, (ii) the controlled formation of implanted nanoparticles (leading to the highest electronic value yet reported for chi 3 optical non-linearity). (b) Further use of accelerator analyses of Rutherford backscattering and particle induced X-ray emission have included (a) analysis of components in Tokamak reactors and (b) the compositional depth variations and weathering effects in the surface of commercial float glass. Many of the implantation effects benefit from the pioneering efforts at Sussex to utilise pulse laser annealing to control nanoparticle size, luminescence and chi 3 performance. (c) Luminescence programmes have included (i) the novel development of luminescence to monitor phase changes in insulators and fullerenes, (ii) identification of the association of traps and recombination sites in thermoluminescence dosimeters, (iii) materials characterisation by luminescence of many minerals, dosimeters, particle detecting phosphors and optical fibre materials. Luminescence studies have extended to developments of photomultiplier tubes with enhanced sensitivity and fast pulse response. Both implantation and luminescence interests have lead to improved characterisation of surface layers of insulators and development of surface second harmonic generation. Processing has followed which achieves novel surface layers giving improvements in quality by up to 104 in surface dislocation density for enhanced laser rods and waveguide lasers as well as other photonic crystals.
Funding from EPSRC (£325k), JET/UKAEA (£75k), Framework V (£290k), Marie-Curie/ESPRIT/Brite-Euram (£150k), Corning and UK Industry etc (£50k) has been obtained. During the assessment period the combined output exceeds 100 journal publications plus some 30 commercially sensitive industrial reports.
Total new funds received by the Research Centre in the assessment period: £2.5m.

TFMRC - Turner (Director), Childs, Long, Hills*, Morse^. The main focus of the research is on experimental heat transfer and the fluid dynamics of internal air systems (cooling and sealing) for gas turbines using real gas turbine components tested at representative operating conditions. A principal aim has been to support the experimental work with an equal effort on theoretical modelling – of stress analysis, 3D transient heat conduction and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). The validation of large computer codes, both mechanical design codes and CFD, is an important strategic objective.
Five major experimental test programmes are in progress, all with major rigs in full operation, three of which are supported under an EC Brite-Euram contract and two supported privately by RR. Two of the five programmes, Axial Turbine Rim Seals and Axial Compressor Stator Wells, form a technology exchange between RR and ABB-Alstom Gas Turbines. The Brite-Euram Framework IV contract is in partnership with three other Universities (Bath, Aachen and Karlsruhe) and every major gas turbine company in Europe (RR, Snecma, Daimler-Chrysler, BMW-RR, Volvo Aero, Turbomeca, Fiat Avo, ITP [Spain], ABB and Alstom). The Sussex University share of the income is three times larger than any other partner, in part due to the unique facilities developed at Sussex over the past four years. Three of the five main experimental rigs (those in the TFMRC) are driven by compressed air from a modified aero-engine driven compressor, conceived, designed, built and brought into full operation entirely at Sussex. This facility is believed to be the most powerful in any UK University and has laid the foundations for long term co-operation with the gas turbine industry.
The success of the work has been principally due to the realisation over four years ago that the increasing power of computers and the thermo-mechanical model computer codes would require increasingly powerful and sophisticated rigs for their validation. In this respect the TFMRC has been successful in being awarded a follow-on EU contract, from Brite-Euram Framework V, which, at the request of the 10 collaborating companies, gives the TFMRC a monetary share over four times greater than any other partner. All five of the TFMRC large engineering rigs have produced valuable engine representative data that is now being used throughout Europe. Rolls-Royce is engaged in a bitter commercial struggle for the aero engine market with GE and Pratt & Whitney, and for many years much of the TFMRC research output has been considered too valuable to publish.
Total new funds received by the Research Centre in the assessment period: £3.6m.

VCGC - Lister (Director), Grimsdale, White, Thomas, Mania*, Newbury*, Watten*, Dunnett^, McNeill^.
The Centre has successfully participated in five ESPRIT projects involving the design of graphics accelerators (ASICs and FPGAs), software algorithms and systems for virtual reality and virtual environments. Collaboration with industry is extensive and involves seven countries. The Centre also has excellent links with seven European universities. It has also collaborated with many UK SMEs in the field of microprocessor and embedded system design through the ESPRIT Euromic and Dominic projects. Outcomes of the research have been widely disseminated in journals (particularly IEEE transactions) and in conference papers – the latter are essential for speedy propagation and networking. Projects include: (a) A 3D texturing chip (STEP) has been completed as an adjunct to the IMAGE chip design for a French company, Caption, (ESPRIT £292k). The IMAGE chip was incorporated in the TWS Workstation made by Telmat Infomatique. (b) A high performance 3D accelerator chip called TAYRA was designed within a project involving IBM Germany and IBM Yorktown Heights (ESPRIT £580k). (c) A major contribution to the OMI macrocell library for European industry and the designers of the OMI PI-Bus Toolkit, a VHDL kit for designing on-chip bus based integrated systems compliant with the ESPRIT standard. This kit has been used by over 50 ESPRIT organisations. In the recent SHARED project (ESPRIT £137k) three large display macrocells have been generated for INFO Technologies. This work has involved C++ modelling of ASIC hardware, automatic VHDL code generation tool development as well as test bench design. (d) Successfully completion of a major ESPRIT project for both 2 and 3D graphics ASIC design with Philips (NL) (ESPRIT £1.1m). This produced key 3D results transferred to Philips Research in Eindhoven and to their associated 3D group in the US. This project involved probably the most complex VHDL ASIC development undertaken in a UK University (~400,000 gates). (e) A major contribution to the ISTAR Simulation Facility, a large terrain database of a battlefield virtual environment, operating in real-time, for evaluating the effectiveness of sensors in relation to a large number of targets (DERA £504k). The Centre has developed design methodologies using VHDL, Visual Basic, C++ and Java for the development of new algorithms and architectures. (f) A "Faraday: Models from Movies" EPSRC project is being run in partnership with Glasgow University. The objective is to extract three-dimensional scene-models from the time-series images in movie-films to support special effects, either automatically or using interactive intervention (EPSRC £129k).
A successful JREI bid in collaboration with Chemistry, Physics, Biology and others at Sussex for High Performance Computing has allowed more efficient implementation of photorealistic rendering, e.g. ray tracing and radiosity solutions. Sponsorship by Silicon Graphics International (SGI), Trimension and the University of Sussex has enhanced this facility with an Advanced Visualisation Laboratory consisting of ten O2 workstations and projective display equipment.
Total new funds received by the Research Centre in the assessment period: £2.0m.

Self assessment: There has been a considerable further growth of research activity since the 1996 RAE. All six Research Centres have strengthened their industrial connections, maintained a high level of research funding and increased their rate of publication output. Of particular note is (a) the considerable, growing success of the IIMSRC, since its creation in 1995, (b) the continuing success of the TFMRC, with very strong support from Rolls Royce, (c) the strength of the new SOSRC, through the addition of the optoelectronics group and the ongoing success of the Space Science Centre in attracting large-scale PPARC funding, (d) the increased activity of the NLDRC in the area of Automotive Engineering, with strong industrial support, (e) the success of the VCGC in attracting large-scale funding from the EU and Industry and (f) major new developments in the EECRC, including the establishment of nanotechnology facilities, with the aid of recent EPSRC funding, and studies of electromagnetic levitation and propulsion systems for launching space vehicles, funded by NASA.

Users of this website should note that the information is not intended to be a complete record of all research centres in the UK

Copyright 2002 - HEFCE, SHEFC, ELWa, DEL

Last updated 17 October 2003

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