The Welsh Assembly Government has awarded the School of Electronic Engineering at Bangor University a grant of £500,000 to create the first Centre for Lifetime and Reliability Testing (CLARET) in Wales.
This grant, awarded through the A4B programme, will enable the school to purchase a suite of new test equipment as well as employ a business development manager.
Manufacturers require such a testing facility and nothing of its kind currently exists in Wales. The new facility will be industry standard and will allow local businesses to access lifetime and reliability testing equipment for a huge range of plastic electronics devices and solar cells.
Bangor University’s School of Electronics is currently ranked second in the UK for research and the new CLARET laboratories will also be used to support high-level research as well as allowing it to work with local business on R&D for new and exciting plastic electronics such as OLEDs, sensors and next generation solar cells.
However, the main aim of the new facility is to attract outside users – specifically industry. The School of Electronic Engineering will first create a basic functional facility and then, after testing, broaden its capabilities in order to create a large-scale European facility. CLARET will build on activity at the School of Electronics, which has been supported by the EPSRC, Royal Society, Astute, Interreg and TSB to provide a new industry-facing facility at Bangor University.
“We are delighted to receive this investment because it will enable us to offer business a reliable and local testing service that is essential for research and development of new products,” says Dr Jeff Kettle, an academic at the School of Electronic Engineering who is leading the project. “It will also enable the school to work closely with local business and provide access for them to our current research,” he adds.
The new facility will complement the existing multimillion pound investments that the school has received to create a clean room, inert atmosphere fabrication environment, laser micromachining facility and a surface analysis laboratory.
This combination of facilities will be unique in the UK and Europe and the school therefore hopes that it will be able to develop a European centre of excellence in North Wales.
The new equipment provides a synergy with other centres across the UK, while the centre will provide an added dimension to the five Plastic Electronics Centres of Excellence (Pecoes) and major solar cell R&D centres in the UK.