OpTIC Glyndŵr explores laser energy possibilities


OpTIC Glyndŵr, the centre of excellence for the research and development of cutting-edge opto-electronics technology, has taken part in an event to help advance the use of laser energy. Dr Phillip Harris, CEO at the internationally respected establishment, recently attended a major conference at the Royal Society in London along with 180 other experts from related technical, commercial and industrial fields.

Sponsored by the Institute of Physics, the conference was held to explore how the use of laser energy can be transformed from a scientific concept into a workable reality. Increasingly being seen as a viable solution to the world’s energy requirements as supplies of fossil fuel run out, laser energy entails firing high-powered lasers at pellets of hydrogen. This fuses the atoms together creating helium and releasing clean and renewable energy as part of a controlled reaction.

In particular, the conference saw Britain’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and AWE formally join forces with the US National Ignition Facility (NIF), based at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California, to aid the development of power plants based on laser fusion technology. Dr Philip Harris was engaged in talks with numerous high-profile industry professionals, including NIF Director Dr Ed Moses, to discuss OpTIC Glyndŵr’s ability to supply specialist large scale optics to this joint development initiative.

Projects already underway on both sides of the Atlantic include the development of two prototype laser fusion plants - HiPER in the UK and Ignition in the US - both of which require numerous large scale, high specification optics. OpTIC Glyndŵr would be perfectly placed to answer these needs and to facilitate the success of the projects, effectively helping them to negate a current worldwide shortage in large-scale precision optics manufacturing capacity.

Commenting, Dr Philip Harris said of the conference: “The event was an excellent opportunity to explore the possibilities offered by laser fusion technology not only to UK industry, but also to society as a whole.

“Thanks to the considerable technical expertise and manufacturing capabilities at OpTIC Glyndŵr, we’re already working on a €5million contract to prepare seven prototype mirrors for the European Southern Observatory’s planned European Extremely Large Telescope. We’d welcome the opportunity to build on that success with more high profile, leading edge work such as that demanded by these latest laser energy projects.”

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Images & captions:   Laser fusion conference.jpg: Exploring new possibilities. Pictured: David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science  

For more information on this story, contact Emma Macey at PRECISION on 0161 638 8718 or e-mail:  emma@precision-online.co.uk

Notes to Editors:

Established by Glyndŵr University, OpTIC Glyndŵr brings together academics conducting research into highly specialised areas of opto-electronics technology and businesses looking to develop that technology for commercial purposes. It has an exceptional reputation for designing, developing and manufacturing precision optical and opto-mechanical components thanks to expertise and capabilities covering:

  • Precision polishing of complex or large substrates such as lenses and mirrors
  • The development of micro-structured patterned drums using a unique drum diamond turning machine to replicate patterns/shapes/structures to tolerances and designs unparalleled in the world
  • Photovoltaics using applied research, testing and manufacture through the exploitation of advanced thin film photovoltaic materials.
  • Solar energy research thanks to its Centre for Solar Energy Research (CSER) which has a world-class reputation for researching novel photovoltaic materials and devices and which is also home to the Welsh Solar Car team.

Recent successes for OpTIC Glyndŵr’s include:

  • Securing a €5m contract to provide 1.4m prototype hexagonal segments for the planned E-ELT – the European Extremely Large Telescope which, once constructed, will be the largest telescope in the world.
  • Becoming the location for an £8m project to establish a Centre of Excellence for ultra-precision and structured surfaces
  • The development, in conjunction with Balfour Beatty and Yorkshire Water, of advanced micro-camera/sensors for detecting leaks in mains water pipes

OpTIC Glyndŵr also includes an incubation centre providing accommodation for start-up businesses emerging from either industry or academia.

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