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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/L015323/1
Title: EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Photonic Integration and Advanced Data Storage
Principal Investigator: Bowman, Professor R
Other Investigators:
Marsh, Professor JH
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Compound Semiconductor Tech Global Ltd FEI Company IQE (Europe) Ltd
JEOL Kelvin Nanotechnology Ltd Lumentum
Oxford Instruments Plc Seagate Technology Technology Strategy Board (Innovate UK)
Department: Sch of Mathematics and Physics
Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Scheme: Centre for Doctoral Training
Starts: 01 April 2014 Ends: 30 June 2023 Value (£): 3,080,794
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Optical Devices & Subsystems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
23 Oct 2013 EPSRC CDT 2013 Interviews Panel K Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Information technology and the Internet are central to our society and these technologies require storage of digital information on an exponentially increasing scale. There are two principal types of storage: traditional hard disk drives (HDD) that provide high density storage at low cost, and solid state drives (SSD) that offer less capacity at greater price, but are more power efficient and have no mechanical parts. While most personal computing and related electronic devices are migrating to SSD the need for HDD is also increasing - in a local context (e.g. personal TV and video recorders) and also remotely, particularly in cloud computing. Cloud computing is a rapidly growing sector, where already almost all of e-commerce and the internet and much of the engineering industry rely on data farms filled with large numbers of 'server' computers using HDD to store information. These data range from personal information such as bank details and social media through to environmental data, data related to health and company and institution specific data. Cloud computing accounted for 25% of storage use in 2010 and by 2020 it will account for >60% - a server is required for every 600 smartphones or 120 tablet computers. As a result, HDDs of ever increasing capacity are required.

Due to the limitations of current materials, a new technology will be needed to increase the density of magnetic data recording at the present rate, and it envisaged this technology will be heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR). HAMR will require the integration of photonic components such as lasers, waveguides and plasmonic antennas within a magnetic recording head.

HAMR will only be successful if it can be deployed as a low-cost manufacturable technology. Its successful development will therefore drive low-cost photonic integration and plasmonic technology into other industries and applications. The CDT will address the challenge with a critical mass of partners from universities and industry to meet this challenge and undertake the training of successive cohorts of research students in a set of cognate technical topics:

- Ultra-reliable semiconductor lasers operating in hostile environments (the laser may have to operate at temperatures of 100 degree C)

- Low cost planar lightwave circuit (PLC) platforms and laser and antenna coupling schemes, suitable for volume manufacture

- Novel nanoplasmonic antennas capable of operating in extreme environments (200-300 degree C and pressures up to 10 atm. at the disk/head interface)

- Advanced materials for magnetic recording

- Atomic scale analysis techniques

This suite of technologies must be highly manufacturable and suitable for heterogeneous integration in a rugged platform. The successful development of HAMR technology will see a paradigm shift in the performance of data storage devices but the low-cost ruggedized heterogeneous integration technology will also be applicable in multiple markets. Although the HAMR environment is particularly harsh, many other consumer and society driven applications (such as widely deployable high speed internet) also require operation in harsh environments.

Our industry partners have identified that distributed working is an element missing from existing doctoral training. Much R&D in cutting edge technology is undertaken collaboratively across geographically separated sites because of the need to thread together expertise and capability that is often not co-located. It is important that doctoral students gain experience in this way of working and develop the skills and strategies to become adept and effective in this environment.

The technical capability required to address the range of photonic and heterogeneous integration requirements for advanced data storage does not reside within one single University in the UK and therefore collaboration across the partner university sites provides the vehicle for delivering training in distributed working.

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.qub.ac.uk