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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/C009681/1
Title: Microwave Profiler
Principal Investigator: Gibson, Professor A
Other Investigators:
Ainsworth, Professor P withers, Professor P
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Dalepak Foods plc Kaiku Ltd
Department: Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 23 March 2005 Ends: 22 June 2008 Value (£): 390,094
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Instrumentation Eng. & Dev.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine Manufacturing
Food and Drink
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Measurements on the materials or structures used in devices or other products provide information which can be used to understand the behaviour of the devices and improve their performance, or check that the products are of the right quality. Often it is necessary to do this at a very small scale using specialised equipment, for example scanning and tunnelling electron microscopes. Sometimes due to the size of the equipment, the necessary preparation of the sample, or the type of feature which needs to be measured, it is awkward or impossible to use such equipment for measurements. One possible alternative is to describe the object being measured by deducing its characteristics from the way that it interacts with microwave radiation. It is important to do this in a way which will be applicable to a range of scales and of types of feature being measured, and without confining the measurement situation solely to laboratory study of preprepared samples.Microwave radiation is similar to radio waves but is a higher frequency electromagnetic radiation. The advantage of using high frequencies is that the radiation can be focussed and the resolution can be improved. For example, we are designing a microwave resonating cavity with a probe sensor, which can sense conductor lines of less than a micron width. This is a special arrangement, which uses a pinhead as an attachment to enhance the concentration of the field at the sample under test. The problem up till now is that the pin is very fragile and the instrument (source & detector) is very large and expensive. We aim to solve these problems by designing a dedicated box of electronics to work with a laptop in conjunction with our proposal to develop a new type of micromachined probe head which is more robust and reliable for measurements. Once designed and fabricated we will have to investigate the capability of the instrument for making measurements on soft/hard materials whilst in contact or contactless mode of operation. In order to investigate the use and functionality of our system we intend to incorporate it into our current research programmes which involve profiling engineering materials, characterising food, and for medical diagnostics. The School of Materials Science at the University of Manchester will provide assistance in assessing the capability of the instrumentation as a diagnostic tool. The School is world leading in the study and detection of faults in many types of composites and ceramics. Currently available measurement techniques involve very expensive equipment and measurements are confined to extractable samples. The probe will be applied to ongoing investigation of cracks in coatings for turbine blades, and cracking and defect monitoring in other materials used in technology.In collaboration with the Department of Food and Consumer Technology at Manchester Metropolitan University we will investigate new applications of the sensor as a method of characterising food contents. These now have to be disclosed under the European Union Quantitative Ingredient Declaration (2003) and cannot currently be measured quickly or cost-effectively. The potential of our system to overcome current technical barriers to practical measuring instruments could significantly impact food processing and reprocessing technology. Warwick University Hospital funded a six month pilot project (2004) to investigate the use of a probe for microwave sensor measurement of diverse biological tissues. A range of measurements were made, indicating clearly different experimental results for different tissue types using microwave techniques. The potential medical applications of the proposed instrument will be investigated as part of our ongoing collaboration.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk