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RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy

UMIST is a specialist research-led university dedicated to the advancement, propagation and exploitation of knowledge in the sciences, engineering and management. The highest importance is attached to providing appropriate resources and a conducive environment for research. Linking fundamental research with developments in industry and commerce is central to UMIST’s philosophy. UMIST's Research Committee, whose membership is drawn from leading research staff, oversees the formation of research policy. Several major research issues have been identified as strategic priorities for UMIST, including the life sciences, healthcare, manufacturing and the environment. New initiatives and research groupings have thus been established, involving EE&E. Wealth creation is explicitly addressed through UMIST Ventures Ltd (UVL).
EE&E is fully committed to the UMIST research philosophy. As stated in RAE96, we continue to nurture and enhance internationally recognised work in all our research activities. Our over-riding research aim is to advance both fundamental knowledge and applications across a broad front within the discipline. Our objectives are:
· To promote the revolution in communication and information systems technologies;
· To support environmental stewardship;
· To transfer our specialist expertise into healthcare and life sciences;
· To participate in wealth creation by application and exploitation of our research activities.
A major review in 1997 enhanced our research organisation to provide critical mass in expertise, equipment, financial and accommodation resources. Research is now organised in four groups with the three larger groups divided in smaller sub-groups, each with professorial leadership. The groups and how they relate to the previous (RAE96) structure can be outlined as:
· Communications and Microwave Engineering - Our previous Applied Electronics sub-group has focused on microwave technology and joined with the Communications sub-group to strengthen research in this vital field. Both sub-groups will soon (2001) occupy adjacent refurbished accommodation, largely funded by a recent JIF award.
· Control and Instrumentation Systems - A coherent new entity created to incorporate existing research activities in control with rapidly expanding sub-groups in detectors, instrumentation and information processing.
· Electrical Power Engineering - Building on our well-established activities in electrical machines, power systems and HV engineering, and the expanding field of power electronics, by combining the previous Electrical Energy and Power Systems Group with a rejuvenated team in electrical machines/power conversion.
· Microelectronic Materials and Devices - This new group was formed from parts of the previous
Solid State Electronics and Information Systems Engineering groups, to undertake fundamental and
applied research in semiconductor materials, devices and systems.
The Department's research activities are guided by its own Research Committee, the members of which are the sub-group leaders, the Head of Department and a UVL officer. The status and plans of each sub-group are reviewed regularly, resulting in enhanced proposals and strengthening of activities that involve members of multiple groups. We invest heavily in research student support, with an annual expenditure in excess of £200k. UMIST's Graduate School provides skill-enhancement programmes complementary to training received at group level. With over 100 research students in the department at the census date, there is a vibrant research culture.
The Department and the sub-group leaders monitor and optimise the teaching and research activities of all staff through standardised and quantified indicators. Opportunities are provided for each individual’s research development, such as sabbatical/study leave (e.g. 5 staff in AY 1999/2000). Academic recruitment is international and candidates must have a previous track record of research excellence. New members of academic staff receive pump-priming funds for research, have reduced initial loading for other duties, and are proactively assisted through the group structure (by experienced research-active mentors) to ensure effective engagement in research. Our probation process is active and positive; confirmation requires appropriate progress in research. Since RAE96, EE&E has appointed 15 new academic staff, all vacancies being allocated to further our research objectives (13 submitted; 2 are young PhD graduates making a strong contribution to research). Renewal also occurs from within, witnessed by the promotion of two existing members of staff to chairs over the assessment period.
During the assessment period, HEFCE/UMIST capital investment of over £1.7M has established more integrated and synergistic research accommodation and facilities, in addition to the £1.9M JIF award to establish the Electromagnetics Centre for Microwave and Millimetre-Wave Design and Applications. We have excellent experimental facilities and specialist workshops. Further important new research facilities already committed include a £520k UV-IR tuneable laser source (EPSRC) for Chemical Species Tomography, and an industrial donation (VG Semicon) of a state-of-the-art Molecular Beam Epitaxy facility (with an order book valuation of £2.8M). Research activity is supported by the department's permanent staff of Computer and Experimental Officers (9 FTE), Technicians (31), Administrators (6) and Secretaries (8.5). These resources enable us to undertake research in a manner which is extremely cost-effective for sponsors.

Communication and Microwave Engineering
Activities encompass many aspects of modern communications from fundamental studies on propagation, through devices, to multimedia delivery. Our efforts were rewarded with a JIF award of over £1.9M to provide a core facility in electromagnetic science and engineering to enable our existing world-class research to be expanded.
Sub-group: Communication Engineering (Gott, with 2 Readers, 2 SLs and 1 L)
Covers wireless and optical communications, propagation studies from HF to cellular radio frequencies, design and exploitation of new electronics systems for mobile and optical networks, and multimedia delivery for current and future generation cellular networks.
· HF Spectral Occupancy To optimise communication system operation, we initiated and lead a unique international project on the measurement, analysis and prediction of radio spectral occupancy across Europe, in collaboration with DERA, DTI, the Swedish National Defence Research Establishment, and Rhode and Schwarz (Germany). A new Arctic Circle measurement site has been integrated with the existing stations in UK, Sweden and Germany. This work is included in the EU COST 251 and 271 research initiatives.
· Radio Channel Sounding A novel wideband portable coherent sounder has been developed for the simultaneous characterisation of UMTS mobile radio channels between 1.8GHz and 2.4GHz. It is exploited to characterise channel behaviour in typical city and in-building environments, and to evaluate smart aerial designs (DTI and BT funded; in collaboration with the University of Rennes, France). We have now joined (by invitation) the BT Virtual University Research Initiative on Mobility, one of only four UK HEIs to be involved. A novel record of the short-term variations in HF radio channel parameters is being applied to the design of very high-rate data modems (DERA and EPSRC).
· Electronic Systems Collaborative work with Zetex , EOD, UCL and University of Aveiro (Portugal, in the EU Praxis programme) has resulted in the transfer of a number of novel analogue electronic systems to industry, ranging from op-amp designs to multi-GHz bandwidth distributed amplifiers. Successful research to design new HBT-based amplifiers for 40 Gbit/s links has been funded by Northern Telecom. Research into new mobile communication base-station receiver design is funded by Nokia. Theoretical studies of sequence correlation properties have led to the discovery of new polyphase sequences with infinite merit factors and codes suitable for optical CDMA networks and cryptographic applications (funded byTexas Instruments, France).
·Video streaming With the Image Engineering and Neural Computing group, a unique zero-buffered wavelet video coding scheme has been developed, incorporating psychophysical modelling and robust error concealment, that is enabling fully-scalable video streaming over GPRS and 3G networks. A spin-off company, Video and Image Coding Specialists (VICS), has been formed with a commercial valuation of £20M; patenting is at an advanced stage.
Sub-group: Microwave Engineering (Davis, with 2 Readers and 2 SLs)
This team is internationally recognised for its work on active and passive microwave devices and circuit design, as well as the invention of new components and modelling techniques. Industrial take-up of its results is widespread and there are well-established exploitation routes.
· Active Devices Our tuneable ring resonator was first demonstrated in MMIC form in 1997, and is now being developed for millimetric applications. Power amplifiers with high efficiencies have been implemented using feed-forward linearisation, and will provide lower cost alternatives for TWT amplifiers in SATCOM terminals (funded by EPSRC, MoD and Matra Marconi).
· Passive Devices We are the foremost UK group on dielectric resonator antennas, and 1- and 2-D arrays, now being developed for broadband mobile communications (funded by TDK, Japan). New components designed and fabricated include semiconductor junction circulators to provide a novel route for integrating circulators at mm-wavelengths on MMICs, and a ferrite-coupled-line circulator using a new gyrotropic coupled-wave effect (funded by EPSRC and Marconi Applied Technologies).
· Sensors A microwave tomographic system, exploiting MMIC technology, has been developed to monitor multiphase fluid flow, with the Industrial Process Tomography group, and is being applied in the oil industry (supported by EPSRC and Schlumberger). With our Chemical Engineering Dept., a unique new microwave instrument is being developed for simultaneous measurement of volume, mass, density and moisture content of cereal grains (funded by EPSRC and Satake, Japan).

· Modelling New variational techniques have been applied to waveguides with embedded s-parameter networks. Techniques to derive equivalent circuit models for discontinuities have been applied for the first time to the accurate design of microwave filters for mobile communications, accelerating the design and fabrication of microwave oscillators (funded by EPSRC and TDK).
During the assessment period this group published 61 journal and 57 refereed international conference papers; with 31 other publications. Average annual spend was £354,823.
Control and Instrumentation Systems
The 1997 restructuring forged this new group in recognition of the synergy between modern instrumentation systems, the control and signal processing disciplines and recent developments in visualisation and non-conventional computing. It comprises the long established Control Systems Centre, a greatly enlarged Industrial Process Tomography group and a newly formed activity in Image Engineering and Neural Computing. The last two topics have expanded in line with intentions stated in RAE96, with an increasing emphasis on life science drivers.
Sub-group: Control Systems Centre (Munro and Wellstead, with 3 SLs and 1.5 Ls)
We continue to achieve international recognition for our contributions to advanced control theory and its application. Our industrial involvement is exemplified by a 5-year research lectureship (funded by Lucas Varity/TRW) and the DTI-supported Technology Transfer Club which has assisted over 30 firms in the North West. Interdisciplinary links have been strengthened including a joint lectureship with UMIST's Biomolecular Sciences. The research focii are:
· Uncertain systems Pioneering work using symbolic algebra tools for the control of uncertain systems has led to important theoretical results and enhanced CAD systems for the analysis and synthesis of robust linear and non-linear systems. Results of this work have been applied to aircraft gas-turbine engines (funded by EPSRC, DERA and Rolls-Royce) and coal-fired gasifiers for electrical power generation (with GEC Alstom). Linear matrix inequalities theory has been successfully applied to the robust control of multi-model systems.
· Intelligent systems and sensing Novel ‘vision-in-the-loop’ methods have been developed with Lucas Varity/TRW for lane support and collision-avoidance in autonomous vehicle navigation systems. Fuzzy clustering techniques have been employed in a pipeline leak detection system, with RELI.
· Biomolecular System Modelling Data mining and system indentification techniques are being applied to the modelling of biomolecular systems, in collaboration with UMIST's Biomolecular Sciences department (with EPSRC and BBSRC funding). We lead an EPSRC Network project on the application of system theory to genomics.
·Two-dimensional systems Development of practical two-dimensional systems theory for industrial processes, such as papermaking and plastic-film extrusion, has been recognised by the industry as a paradigm shift in control for product uniformity and quality (EPSRC, Infrared Engineering and 3Ms Corp.).
Sub-group: Industrial Process Tomography (McCann, with 2 Readers, 1 SL and 1L)
This UMIST-wide multi-disciplinary activity enjoys international acclaim for research into advanced tomography systems and their application in chemical engineering, multi-phase flow, combustion systems, etc. We collaborate extensively with a wide range of multinational companies and SMEs. We were a leading partner in a £3.2M Foresight Challenge grant with the Universities of Leeds and Exeter and industrial partners (e.g. Astra Zeneca, BP Amoco, DuPont, Schlumberger, Corus). The Virtual Centre for Industrial Process Tomography was founded under that initiative, and has now entered its self-funding phase with continued industrial support. With UVL, two spin-off companies have been launched, PTL and ITS. Three new academic staff were recruited during the period. Our research is developed around two focal points:
·Electrical Tomography We are the world leader in electrical tomography instrumentation for industrial processes. The Virtual Centre has successfully applied tomography to a variety of industrial plants and provided a multi-modal tomography platform employing data fusion to examine new process applications. A recent 980k ecu EU project, in collaboration with the University of Bergen and industrial partners (Fluenta AS Norway, Expro UK, Oxford Instruments and PTL), is exploring techniques for monitoring pneumatic conveying and oil flow. Sensing circuitry for capacitance tomography has been integrated onto custom silicon and used to detect 25 micron diameter particles (funded by EPSRC). Novel data inversion techniques for image reconstruction have been developed, and a new appointment in Maths Department has extended our capability in this area. Research into brain function imaging is underway (with University of Manchester and ITS), producing unique images of sub-second neural activity. With Microwave Engineering sub-group we have extended our electrical tomography into the GHz region (EPSRC and Schlumberger).
· Chemical Species Tomography Successfully established during the assessment period, with EPSRC grants and industrial support totalling £800k. The first all-optoelectronic near-IR tomography images of a chemical species mixing with a host have been produced (with AVL, Austria, BMW-Rover and Royal Dutch/Shell). Feasibility work has also demonstrated the principles of novel optical fluorescence tomography and its x-ray counterpart (with University of Bergen). Extension of absorption techniques into the visible for trace NO2 monitoring has been shown to be feasible (with Rolls-Royce).
Sub-group: Image Engineering and Neural Computing (Allinson, with 1 SL and 2 Ls)
This is a new activity, initiated by Prof. Allinson in 1996, to research the acquisition, processing and understanding of images, and other high-dimensional data, within an engineering context. It has expanded steadily, through recruitment of both young and experienced staff. The sub-group enjoys international respect for its developments and expertise, and has established strong national and international collaborations involving several disciplines. Its portfolio encompasses:
· X-ray imaging systems We were a leading partner in the PPARC £2.9M Foresight Challenge IMPACT programme for advanced x-ray detectors for synchrotron radiation (SR) experiments (with Oxford Instruments, Marconi Applied Technologies, BNFL, CLRC and four other HEIs).This created the world's most sensitive CCD x-ray imager for protein crystallography, with detection limit equivalent to one-sixth of the signal from a single 8 keV photon. We have just delivered POLO, a unique combined small- and wide-angle diffraction measurement system for dynamic material science research, which was the largest project within the EPSRC Daresbury SR Source Detector Initiative.
· Neural computing Important extensions to self-organising neural maps and to memory-based networks have been developed. We are lead site for an EPSRC Club on Emergent Behaviour Computing (in association with four other HEIs, BT and BAe Systems). Neural network exploitation has yielded a ten-fold improvement in the sensitivity of analytical chemistry instruments (EPSRC Analytical Science Programme; technology transferred to Agilent, Germany), and tyre testing systems (Dunlop plc and EPSRC Neural Computing Initiative). We hold one of the few EPSRC grants with named USA collaborators (Purdue University), with pharmaceutical and chemical industry support, for research into weak signal recovery for ‘lab on a chip’ systems.
·Image engineering Pioneering work for the enhancement of still and video images obtained in poor visibility is being employed in real-time airborne navigation aids (supported by BAe ; world-wide patents granted). This activity has been extended to underwater inspection, with Racal Survey Ltd. Unique multi-disciplinary research with cognitive psychologists (Stirling and Glasgow Universities) is funded by EPSRC for comparative face recognition from poor-quality video. The data streaming aspects of our video compression activities are carried out with our Communications specialists.
During the assessment period this group published 110 journal and 191 refereed international conference papers; with 42 other publications. Average annual spend was £620,170.
Electrical Power Engineering
The group is committed to high quality research in power systems, power conversion and electrical machines. Its strength in the field of electrical machines was substantially augmented in early 2000 by the appointment of Professor S Williamson and Dr A C Smith, both from Invensys Brook Crompton. The group's research is focused through two sub-groups.
Sub-group: Electrical Energy and Power Systems (Jenkins, Strbac and Allan (0.33) with 2 Readers, 0.4 SL and 2 Ls)
Continues as one of the foremost university electrical power engineering research groups in the world making major contributions across a broad range of topics in electrical power systems and high voltage engineering. Research interests are split fairly evenly between electrical plant, power systems analysis and power systems economics, the last being an area of considerable growth in the modern de-regulated industry. Our high voltage facilities, encompassing 2MV capability, are the most extensive in any UK HEI. A lectureship in distribution engineering is funded for five years by East Midlands Electricity. Progress has been made in all areas identified in RAE96, and fruitful national and international collaborations continue to be extended in three main fields:
· Electrical Power Systems The interaction between technical and economic issues is our key electrical power expertise. Examples indicating the breadth of this activity are an assessment of worth of supply and lost load (with Victoria Power Exchange, Australia and Merz and McClellan, UK); other projects are carried out with National Grid Company and generating companies to optimise the operation and development of the power system in a competitive environment.
· Embedded Generation Our expertise has been recognised by appointment as advisors to the DTI and an IEE commissioned book. Projects include the use of STATCOMs to improve power quality of wind farms (funded by EU with Siemens, Germany, and ELTRA, Denmark) and pricing of distribution networks including embedded generation (EPSRC, National Wind Power and Midlands Electricity)
· High Voltage and Electrical Plant Work in the HV Laboratory has resulted directly in the improvement of International Standards in the areas of high voltage measurements (revisions of IEC 60060-1 and IEC 60052) and in the practice of live line maintenance. Research includes dielectric strength investigations of electrode configurations for overhead lines (funded by ERCOS panel of EPSRC and UK industry); corona propagation and flashover along insulating surfaces (supported by EPSRC and VATech Reyrolle); and lightning protection of large wind turbines (supported by EU).
Sub-group: Power Conversion (S Williamson and Chalmers (0.33), with 1 Reader, 1 SL and 1 L)
This strengthened grouping has fulfilled its RAE96 forecasts and brought fresh vigour to the increasingly important field of power electronic systems. Achievements include:
· Electrical Machines Our co-ordination of the EU European Network for Permanent Magnet Devices (MAG-NET) has generated exciting interdisciplinary research co-operation between 16 partners across Europe. A novel permanent-magnet, wind-turbine generator designed with DTI funding was also selected by the EU from five contenders for the collaborative development of a 40 kW prototype, for which a patent has been granted in association with ETSU. A further EU project has authorised the building of a 500 kW machine in collaboration with Nordic Windpower (Sweden). An EPSRC-funded study of field-weakening performance of permanent-magnet synchronous machines produced validated software and a novel design with a wide constant-power speed range. An improved method for the computation of electromagnetic force (developed in an EPSRC project) is being implemented in commercial software by Alstom Research Technology.
· Power Electronic Systems Research has been focused on applying recent advances in electronics and microprocessor control to specific industrial problems. A 10kW inductive battery charging system has been developed with EA Technology Ltd. and has been demonstrated on an Enfield electric car. A new method for starting induction motors on weak networks has been developed, also with EA Technology Ltd. An EPSRC funded interdisciplinary investigation is studying means to improve customers' power quality by the use of batteries and advanced power converters (in collaboration with Chloride Industrial Batteries Ltd and the Department of Chemistry).
During the assessment period this group published 104 journal and 130 refereed international conference papers; with 45 other publications. Average annual spend was £785,997.
Microelectronic Materials and Devices (Hicks and Peaker, with 2 Readers and 3 SLs)
This group is intrinsically multidisciplinary with active collaborations involving academia and industry in the UK, Europe, USA, Japan and South Africa. MMD operates within and manages the multidisciplinary Centre for Electronic Materials (CEM), which provides an infrastructure for expertise and high value facilities to be shared between UMIST departments and other universities. Our infrastructure has been strengthened during the assessment period by substantial industrial donations (e.g., from Philips Semiconductors for the refurbishment of our silicon clean room). VG Semicon support for our MBE activity has created a facility valued at about £4M, including III-V processing capability. At the end of 2000, VG signed an agreement with UMIST to fund a new laboratory for a unique MBE research facility and its operating costs to an additional value of £4M. This facility will be compatible with those in leading-edge industries and without parallel in European universities. We have ceased work on self-organising systems and defect imaging referred to in the last RAE, to focus activities on the following four areas, so maintaining research excellence:
· Point Defects in Semiconductors Next generation mainstream ULSI development is being hampered by fundamental point defect limitations and this forms the focus of our studies. Work on hydrogen in silicon has had an impact on the power device manufacturing process (with support from SOITEC France, Philips, Wacker Germany) and on the evolution of implantation damage during annealing (Marconi, ST Microelectronics Italy). Our invention and development of high resolution Laplace Deep Level Transient Spectroscopy is revolutionising the study of the electrical properties of point defects on a worldwide scale.
· Integrated Circuits/Sensors Our design of the world's first integrated position-sensitive detector (resulting in the spin-off company Integrated Sensors Ltd) exemplifies our standing in the niche areas of IC sensor interfaces and integrated sensors. Other achievements include vision ICs with analogue processor arrays, integrated electronic nose instrumentation (spin-off Osmetech plc, part funded by Link S3IA award), and ultrasonic beam forming ICs for medical applications (Brite-Euram). Work on quantum well Hall effect devices has grown out of research on phosphorous pHEMTs, and integrating GaAs electronics with these highly sensitive devices has led to a unique set of truly integrated sensors being developed for use in low field magnetometry (spin-off Advanced Hall Sensors).
· Opto-Electronics An EPSRC programme with Bookham (UK) and SiGe Microsystems (Canada) has established us as world-leaders in Si/SiGe:Er/Si laser and in 1.54 µm erbium-doped silicon LED research. We have developed a unique GaP source for solid-source MBE, to produce novel phosphide-containing compounds, now commercialised by VG. Resonant cavity LEDs and VCSELs have been developed for plastic optical fibre communications and high brightness LEDs for displays (supported by VG-Semicon, UK). Other developments include improvements to conventional edge emitting lasers (with HP Japan) and visible lasers (with Opto-Power, USA).
· High-Speed Electronics Development of short-lifetime MBE materials for 10 fs electro-optic sampling has been achieved in association with Hitachi Cambridge Laboratories and Advantest Research Laboratories (Japan). Research on low phase noise graded-gap diodes has developed a production technology for 77 GHz car radar systems (exploited by Robert Bosch GMBH and BMW, Germany). We have demonstrated a GaAs delta-sigma based system for operation at 2 giga-samples/sec, yielding an effective resolution of 8-bits with a 32 MHz input bandwidth.
During the assessment period this group published 58 journal and 51 refereed international conference papers; with 29 other publications. Average annual spend was £327,716.

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Copyright 2002 - HEFCE, SHEFC, ELWa, DEL

Last updated 17 October 2003

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