Our Institute is an example of ‘under one roof’ multidisciplinary research, housing some 160 researchers made up of engineers, physicists, materials scientists, biologists and chemists. Approximately half of these researchers are PhD students who will drive the next generation of innovation and technology.

Our history

Our Institute was formed in 2002 to create a one-stop research facility housing all of the University of Surrey activities in materials and devices for future electronics and photonics.

Major facilities in fabrication and characterisation of electronic devices, previously dispersed around the University, were co-located, substantially enhanced, and complemented by new capabilities notably in nanoscale fabrication, plastic electronics, nanobiology and biomedical sensors, and modelling.

Our strategy is based on having selective and focussed programmes of research, each of critical mass, which embrace in their investigations the full spectrum of fundamental science through to applied engineering.

From our contributions to the design of the first strain layer laser in the mid 80's to rapid thermal annealing and production of SIMOX for semiconductors in the 90's to nano-materials and nano-technologies in the last decade; our researchers have been at the forefront in helping to solve some of the most challenging problems in industry today.

Our mission

We develop fundamental science through to advanced technologies and nurture next-generation leaders through a versatile and collaborative approach within critical mass teams.

Our research is addressing the following grand challenges:

  1. Can we control materials processes at the level of electrons and what comes next?
  2. Can we design and perfect atom- and energy-efficient synthesis of revolutionary new forms of matter with tailored properties?
  3. Can we master energy and information on the nanoscale to create new technologies with capabilities rivalling living things?
  4. How do we characterise and control matter away, especially very far away, from equilibrium?

Selected highlights

Over the years we have celebrated some notable events:

In 1986 Professor Alf Adams proposed the strained-layer quantum well laser. This has developed into a technology which is integral to CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray players and is used in manufacturing, medicine and environmental monitoring. Strained-layer quantum wells are also being used in solid-state lighting and next generation solar cells.

Theoretical work led to a series of highly acclaimed publications on the nature of temperature on the nanoscale, published in Physical Review Letters and selected as a research highlight in Nature News.

Important theoretical results were also published on the properties of metamaterials. It was shown how the speed of light can be dramatically reduced in materials exhibiting 'negative refraction' (published in Nature, November 2007).

A new method for controlled growth of carbon nanotubes at room temperature was demonstrated at our Institute which led to the formation of a spin-out partnership with a local industrial company, supported by £750,000 in venture capital, which has commercialised the growth method based on the ATI patent.

In 2008 the Ion Beam Centre opened the world's first vertical scanning focused nanobeam which is used to analyse how radiation affects living cells.

This £1.5m project, underpinned by a prestigious grant of £800k from The Wolfson Foundation and supported by EPSRC, was carried out in collaboration with the Gray Institute, Oxford University and the Addenbrooke's NHS Trust, University of Cambridge.

The remarkable ability of an electron to exist in two places at once was controlled in the most common electronic material - silicon - for the first time.

The research findings, published in Nature by a UK-Dutch team from the University of Surrey, UCL, Heriot-Watt University and the FOM Institute for Plasma Physics - marked a significant step towards the making of an affordable "quantum computer".

In 2010 the Ion Beam Centre delivered a record 3,500 hours of beam time to internal and external users who applied for it via EPSRC or EU grants (including SPIRIT) or who paid commercially to use its facilities.

Projects ranged from the analysis of gunshot residue for forensics and cow dung for archaeology to the manufacture of state of the art semiconductor devices.

Research groups

Our activities are divided into four research groups with cross cutting themes between them including science and technology on the nanoscale, technological applications of quantum science and engineering, and conversion of energy.

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Advanced Technology Institute
University of Surrey