The Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) 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. We are proud of our record of excellence, and proud of the practical benefits our work has brought to the wider World.  We believe our contributions to academia, industry and society as a whole will place us as one of the leading research laboratories in advanced technologies on an international basis.

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.

We are also examining such issues as the fabrication of cheap renewable energy sources, and work with industry to deliver high quality output wherever it is required.

Selected highlights

Since the opening of the ATI in 2002 we have celebrated some notable events and our researchers have generated high profile results across a range of activities:

The strained-layer quantum well laser

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.

The nature of temperature on the nanoscale

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).

Controlled growth of carbon nanotubes at room temperature

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

The world's first vertical scanning focussed nanobeam

In 2008 the Ion Beam Centre opened the world's first vertical scanning focussed nanobeam which is used to analyse how radiation effects living cells.  This £1.5m project, underpinned by a prestigious grant of £800k from The Wolfson Foundation and supported by EPSRC, has been carried out in collaboration with the Gray Institute, Oxford University and the Addenbrookes NHS Trust, University of Cambridge.

A significant step towards the making of an affordable "quantum computer"

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".

A record 3,500 hours of beam time

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 gun shot residue for forensics and cow dung for archaeology to the manufacture of state of the art semiconductor devices.

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Advanced Technology Institute
University of Surrey