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AMBER-led consortium awarded over €4.4 million in highly competitive European funding program

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Credit: AMBER, Trinity College Dublin

Trinity researchers at the AMBER centre, the Science Foundation Ireland funded materials science centre, will lead an international project worth over €4.4 million under the European-funded "Future and Emerging Technologies – Open" (FET Open) programme. They are the first group in Ireland ever to coordinate such a project, from the most competitive science funding programme in the EU. FET Open funds visionary research and innovation for radically new future technologies, at an early stage, when there are few researchers working in a field. The success rate for this call was 4%.* Trinity's share of the 4.4m euro budget is 1.7m euro.

The funding has been awarded to the TRANSPIRE project, which is led by Professor Plamen Stamenov, an Investigator in AMBER and Trinity's School of Physics, working with Drs Karsten Rode, Thomas Archer and Professors Michael Coey and Stefano Sanvito (all from the School of Physics), and collaborators in Germany, Norway and Switzerland. TRANSPIRE (Terahertz RAdio communication using high aNistropy SPIn torque REsonators), which came about from an initial collaboration between Trinity and the Materials Research Institute at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) in Germany, will develop a new class of magnetic materials that could enable new, on-chip and chip-to-chip data links at least 100 times, possibly 1000 times faster than current technology. Personal and substance security screening, medical spectrometry and imaging, geophysical and atmospheric research and the Internet of Things will all benefit from ultra-fast data transfer.

Professor Plamen Stamenov, Investigator in AMBER and Trinity's School of Physics, said, "We are, of course, delighted to win this award. It is a recognition of the work we have done on the fundamental physics of highly spin-polarised materials over the last 5-10 years, but also of the quality and expertise of our collaborators in Germany, Norway and Switzerland. I trust that this project will be valued by the scientific community and hope that we will be laying the foundations for high-speed data networks of the future. TRANSPIRE aims to develop a new class of magnetic materials which should enable new and exciting terahertz, that is 1000 gigahertz, technologies. As the different forms of radio communication and navigation e.g. AM and FM radio, digital TV, microwave devices, mobile phones, GPS and wireless networks, all fight for space in the heavily-regulated frequency bands, the changes in their capacity is relatively slow and incremental. With the huge increase in the demand for high-speed data transmission, these radio bands are experiencing intense pressure. The terahertz bands offer new opportunities and some unchartered 'territory', but are rather difficult to work at. In this range, to date, no magnetic materials and correspondingly devices have been developed. Our ambition within TRANSPIRE is to start the development of a low-cost, compact and reliable, room-temperature terahertz technology which could underpin the next wave of the Big Data revolution."

Professor Michael Morris, Director of AMBER, said, "I congratulate Prof Stamenov and his team. This places AMBER researchers amongst the best in Europe. FET Open will only fund scientists that have the capability of conducting research that goes beyond what is currently known or even imagined and we look forward to the developments with this project".

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said, "This is a recognition of truly excellent science by Professor Stamenov and the team at AMBER. The Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres have ambitious targets of securing non-exchequer funding and AMBER has been very successful in reaching its targets to date."

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Notes to Editor

* 22 proposals were funded out of a total of 544 submissions, http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/news/25-new-fet-open-ideas-breakthrough-technologies

Since FET-Open is totally non-prescriptive, it attracts many more applicants than other programmes and the AMBER team were competing with internationally-leading scientists at the highest level across a broad range of disciplines, not just in their own area of interest. Proposals must pass a rigorous evaluation process which assesses the long-term vision of the project and, whether it identifies a clear scientific breakthrough, explores unknown territory with potential high risk but also high gain, and is novel and interdisciplinary.

The other partners in the consortium are Drs Alina Deac, Michael Gensch, Ciarán Fowley and Sergey Kovalev from the Institute of Ion Beam Physics and Materials Research Institute at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) in Germany, Prof Arne Brataas from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology at Trondheim (NTNU) and Dr Emile de Rijk from SWISSto12, a spinoff from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. Trinity's share of the €4.4 million budget is €1.7M.

TRANSPIRE aims to empower innovative small enterprises and major companies to assess the viability of spintronic terahertz technology to shape future devices and processes that will sustain the big data revolution for another generation. The project relies on coordinated interdisciplinary research in physics, chemistry, materials science, terahertz design and device engineering to ensure the success of a high-risk endeavour, which can change the nature of everyday electronic technology.

About AMBER

AMBER (Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research) is a Science Foundation Ireland funded centre which provides a partnership between leading researchers in materials science and industry to develop new materials and devices for a range of sectors, particularly the ICT, medical devices and industrial technology sectors. The centre is hosted in Trinity College Dublin, working in collaboration with CRANN (Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices), the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering and with University College Cork and the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland.

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