The move to Daresbury by Professor David Walker’s research team, part of the University’s Centre for Precision Technologies, will offer considerable opportunities for collaborative partnerships with other leading research groups.

THE University has opened a laboratory at Sci-Tech Daresbury in pursuit of new research collaborations with organisations based at the leading science and innovation campus and beyond.

The team, part of the University’s Centre for Precision Technologies and led by Professor David Walker, has relocated to Sci-Tech Daresbury’s state-of-the-art laboratory building, Techspace One, as part of a drive to develop strategic partnerships with other specialist groups on the campus.

The team focusses on the ultra-precision surfaces – particularly optics, including lenses and mirrors – needed for the Science Technology Facilities Council (STFC) to deliver its science programme in ground and space-based astronomy, high power lasers and synchrotrons.  From this facility, the Huddersfield researchers hope to work with other similar organisations around the world.

Huddersfield is the latest HE institution to link up with Sci-Tech Daresbury alongside a number of major university research groups who are already collaborating with the facilities Virtual Engineering Centre, The Cockcroft Institute and through ESPRC’s SuperSTEM facility.

In time, the Huddersfield research team plans to increase in size to up to 15 people, depending on grant and contract income.  The University is also exploring potential secondments and placements from STFC, Sci-Tech Daresbury and industry to collaborate on joint projects.

The team is working on developing new and improved methods to process ultra-precision surfaces using CNC machines and robots and is starting to explore fully autonomous manufacturing using Artificial Intelligence (AI) methods.

One of the key attractions for the opening of the laboratory at Sci-Tech Daresbury was its location.

Said Professor Walker:

“Our main reason for locating to this nationally-important research campus is to develop strategic alliances with STFC, to identify partnerships with other organisations at Sci-Tech Daresbury and forge collaborative links with industry, research organisations and universities, including the Hartree Centre on future work on AI.

“Our ultra-precision polishing Zeeko machines are among the most advanced in the world and we see STFC as a potential end-user of the sort of high specification optics we can make here for astronomy, space and synchrotron optics.

“Sci-Tech Daresbury is a major national facility with lots of activity, with excellent links to industry and convenient transport links.  The environment is highly presentable to overseas visitors and stands up to comparison with major labs in other countries, including China, and we’ve received a most welcoming and positive attitude from everyone on-site from the outset.  We’ve taken high-quality lab space in a new building which has been fitted out to our specification.  The collaboration opportunities with STFC and Sci-Tech Daresbury are highly promising, with links into projects, labs and industries for the future.”

Professor David Walker is a leader of ultra-precision surfaces research at the University’s Centre for Precision Technologies 

The move was welcomed by Jayne Furnival, the Group Property Director of Langtree: “We’re delighted to welcome the University of Huddersfield to Sci-Tech Daresbury, already a home to several different universities,” she said.  “It’s a move that we hope will act as a catalyst for a range of new research collaborations on campus, as it has with others. 

“Sci-Tech Daresbury is already home to some of the UK’s most ground-breaking research centres and this move reinforces the appeal for world-leading organisations to base their operations here and benefit from the highly innovative and collaborative landscape that we strive to achieve.  We’re looking forward to supporting the University of Huddersfield as it pursues new partnerships with the diverse range of specialisms on campus which will help to propel its research strategy forward.”