InnovateUK projects

Innovate UK  (formerly Technology Strategy Board) is the UK Government agency which supports innovation. InnovateUK administers competitions for UK industry and supports and connects innovative businesses to accelerate sustainable economic growth.

As a not-for-profit Research and Technology Organisation, Fraunhofer CAP are ideally placed to assist UK companies in the application of innovative photonics technology. Fraunhofer CAP is involved in 17 wide ranging Innovate UK Projects, examples of which are:

  • Very high power, ultrashort pulse micromaching  (VIPUR)
  • Supercontinuum sensing and imaging system (SUPERSIS)
  • Mid-infrared contraband applications (MIRANDA)
  • Low-cost, ultrafast laser sources for biological imaging
  • Novel nacelle mounted LIDAR for lowering the cost of offshore wind energy

If you are interested in working together with Fraunhofer in an Innovate UK Project please contact us and we would be happy to help develop collaborative projects and applications.

As an RTO we are obliged to disseminate the results of these projects, but with the caveat that it must be with the approval of the businesses involved to first protect IP, proprietary information and confidentiality. Where appropriate, and approved, we will publish white papers, academic papers and make presentations on the technologies.

PROJECTS SUPPORTED BY INNOVATE UK

Innovate project partners, across all projects,  include:

Art Access Ltd

Cascade Technologies Ltd

Coherent Scotland Ltd

Elforlight Ltd

MSquared Lasers Ltd

Sgurr Energy Ltd

Sgurr Control Ltd

Thales Optronics Ltd

UNIK Lasers Ltd

WFA Ltd

University of Strathclyde, Institute of Photonics

University of Strathclyde Centre for Signal and Image Processing

 

UniKLasers Ltd

Praseodymium Laser Architecture Investigation and Demonstrator (PLAID)

It is difficult to overestimate the impact of electronic computers on modern society - and yet, just a few decades ago, computer technology was a creature of the research laboratory due to their enormous complexity, power requirement, and cost. The uptake of such technology by wider, non-specialist society was only possible once improvements in the size, cost and performance of the subsystems upon which computers depend had been realised. Quantum technology finds itself at a similar junction. These systems are now a reality and hold enormous potential to revolutionise our lives, but they are only found in research laboratories because they depend upon very expensive, very large laser systems. In this project, we will reduce the size and cost of these critical components enormously, without losing performance, in order to place the UK at the vanguard of QT development and commercialisation.

 

Quantum Technologies hold great promise to bring a step-change improvement to a diverse range of high-impact applications, such as ultra-stable clocks for financial transaction time stamping and satellite-free navigation, medical imaging, oil and gas prospecting, and ultra-secure communications. Whilst the scientific principles upon which these technologies rely are now largely proven, the subsystems (in particular, laser systems) upon which they depend are excessively large, expensive and power-hungry. In this project, we will develop a laser platform, critically required by QT systems, which will match the optical performance of the Ti:S laser in a footprint and price point comparable to the external-cavity diode laser (ECDL). We will demonstrate that such a platform can operate on many otherwise difficult-to-access but crucial lines. Such a development will be a critical step on the road to the translation of QT from the research community to the defence, space and consumer market.

 

 

COALESCe - COmpAct Light Engines for Strontium optical Clocks

369138

 

 Optical lattice clocks offer superior performance (>100x) over competing technologies and are required in scientific research, satellite-free navigators and timing signals for financial trading. However, existing all-optical clocks are complex and expensive and have not met the needs of the markets. In this project we will develop underpinning technology of all-optical clocks, stablised-frequency laser systems, using novel laser sources.

 

 

CLOCWORC – Compact Low-cost Optical Clocks based on Whispering gallery mOde Resonator frequency Combs

370142

Optical lattice clocks offer superior performance (>100x) over competing technologies and are required in scientific research, satellite-free navigators and timing signals for financial trading. However, existing all-optical clocks are complex and expensive and have not met the needs of the markets. In this project we will develop underpinning technology of all-optical clocks, the frequency comb, using a novel compact low-cost approach. The frequency comb can be thought of as an ‘optical gearbox’ that translates the fast optical frequency into a frequency where it can be measured with electronics and is a key requirement of optical clocks. We will develop novel technology suitable for frequency comb generation that is compact and low-cost.

 

 

GraTi:S - Graphene for Titanium Sapphire Lasers

325258

The UK has not yet realised the potential of the breakthroughs in Graphene.  This high-risk feasibility project aims to pave the way for the UK’s first flagship graphene-enabled product, a high-value ultrafast laser system for a variety of applications.   This brings together two world leading organisations, Coherent Scotland and Fraunhofer UK to deliver a graphene subsystem which will to give greater functionality and reduced cost, enabling broader use and uptake of a headline export success for the UK.  This will underpin and extend high-value employment lead to social and health benefits.   Whilst early results in graphene suggest it has potential in optical applications, we propose to use it to provide a world first and leading product breakthrough.

 

 

INHERIt: INtelligent HypERspectral Imaging

312253

Imaging of artwork is an important aspect of art conservation, technical art history, and art authentication. Many forms of near-infrared (NIR) imaging are currently used by conservators, archeologists, forensic scientists and technical art historians to examine the under-drawings of paintings, to detect damage and restorations, to enhance faded or over-painted inscriptions, to study artists’ techniques, to examine questioned documents, and as a non-destructive analytical tool for identifying certain pigments. We propose using an infrared optical parametric oscillator (a very broadly tunable source of mid-infrared light with exceptional spectral purity) to explore oil, acrylic and water colour paintings, specifically to realise an automated system than can scan in an artwork and detrmine its authenticity. Once proven in this challenging application, the technology we will develop will find utility in a range of diverse, impactful and timely end use applications in the wider fields of imaging for security, chemical sensing and environmental monitoring.

 

 

MIRANDA: Mid-InfraRed contrabAND Applications

253178

A compact continuous wave (CW) optical parametric oscillator (OPO) capable of tuning over key absorption features in the infrared (IR) is a highly desirable tool for spectroscopy of key atmospheric pollutants, narcotics and explosives. A system that can combine very broad coarse tuneability with smoothly tunable, narrow-linewidth radiation enables the detection and identification of a diverse range of substances with exceptional precision. Fitting the OPO into a single, adjustment-free and highly compact box makes it very attractive for applications both inside and, crucially outside of laboratory conditions. M Squared Lasers already manufacture a pulsed (broad linewidth) OPO, which is a compact broadly tunable source, and have combined this with their scanning system in order to produce hyperspectral images. The challenge is to produce significantly narrower linewidth by making a CW OPO. The project presents a disruptive change in this field, credible market potential and will address the needs of a wide range of important and timely applications.

 

 

Mid Infrared Gas Sensing and Imaging System (MIG-SIS)

253227

MIG-SIS project will develop and demonstrate 2um pump laser sources optimised for the optical parametric amplification (OPA) of chirped Quantum Cascade (QC) Lasers for sensing and imaging applications. QC Laser stand-off trace gas detection is currently limited by the watt level peak power they emit. As a consequence (and dependant upon the particular detection scheme) range is restricted to ~1’s – 10’s metres.

The primary technical motivator of this project is therefore to extend the range of QC Laser based active stand-off gas detection system through a significant increase in its illumination and range capabilities via the use of an OPA. This project will focus on combining 2 different photon generation mechanisms: non-linear optics (Q-switched solid state-laser pumped OPAs) and direct generation (QC Lasers).

 

 

Supercontinuum Sensing and imaging System: SUPER-SIS

2022082

Elforlight and Fraunhofer CAP will collaborate on the creation of a novel Diode-Pumped Solid-State (DPSS) laser for sensing systems which will create a compact and affordable system for a variety of markets.  By targeting a wavelength region with a large number of important substances which need to be detected, an attractive commercial opportunity will be opened up for an ambitious UK technology company, securing and increasing jobs in high value advanced technology. Applications in environmental, industrial processing, petrochemical and explosive detection are addressable with this innovative photonic technology. Over 12 months the team will produce a working demonstrator, leveraging some existing know-how and creating a strong position in intellectual property and in the market

 

 

Low-cost, Ultrafast Laser Sources for Biological Imaging (aka LowCost)

197189

The microscope market was 2.7bn in 2011 and is expected to increase to nearly 3.4 billion in 2016. Multi-photon excitation (MPE) microscopy is the imaging workhorse of life science laboratories. An ultrafast laser is at the core of any MPE microscope and the state of the art for this is the Ti:Sapphire laser. While its output properties are highly desirable for MPE, its optical pump lasers are based on a complex, multi-stage wavelength conversion process, making Ti:Sapphire very expensive (£150k) and often impractical. This project will address these shortcomings by developing a low-cost laser for biomedical imaging. This will be achieved by leveraging recent advances in gallium nitride diode lasers emitting at 450nm (originally motivated by multimedia projection applications). Crucially, this laser will be suitable for OEM integration into microscope systems opening up new markets in comparison to status-quo where microscope and laser are discrete systems. The feasibility of this project has already been proven by means of a TSB feasibility study and an EPSRC KTA programme. This project forms an essential final step before commercialisation of the technology.

 

Novel Nacelle Mounted LIDAR for Lowering The Cost of Offshore Wind Energy (aka COWGIRL)

191221

This study will determine the feasibility of producing significant improvements in productivity and reliability, and as a consequence, reductions in LCoE and increased revenue, in OWE generation. Innovative nacelle mounted LIDAR techniques which deliver high value at low cost will be identified and developed.  Technical solutions and innovation will be informed and enabled by rigorous analysis of newly acquired detailed wind in-flow data to determine the most effective measurements by which to make critical wind turbine control decisions to increase productivity, and reduce maintenance by enabling ride-through of otherwise damaging wind conditions. The project will produce innovation in LIDAR systems aimed at accelerating their adoption and greatly increasing their RoI.  Key outputs will be a robust economic analysis, business case and technical route to implementation of a system level design

 

 

System development of novel CW OPO for hyperspectral imaging and sensing  (aka SYNOPOSIS)

119320

SYNOPOSIS will develop an active, long-wave mid-infrared (LWIR) imaging system capable of catering for a wide range of applications including the detection of explosives, oil and gas prospecting and medical diagnostics. To date, active imaging systems operate mostly in the short-wave mid-infrared spectral region. Moving the technology to longer wavelength will enable access to the so-called molecular fingerprint region where the interaction with light and molecules is significantly stronger, therefore enabling higher sensitivity and specificity. The limiting factor in the context of LWIR active imaging technology has so far been the availability of practical LWIR light sources. SYNOPOSIS will address this issue by advancing the continuous-wave, intracavity-pumped, optical parametric oscillator into the LWIR by employing novel nonlinear materials such as orientation-patterned gallium arsenide and zinc germanium diphosphide

 

 

High peak power ultrafast OPSLs for microscopy - HiPPOs

119365

Multiphoton Microscopy is a key imaging technique in the biological sciences, enabling high resolution imaging at depths unobtainable via alternative imaging techniques. Currently, the lasers used as excitation sources are complex and therefore somewhat costly, therefore there is a requirement to identify alternate excitation sources. This project will investigate the applicability of innovative laser sources to Multiphoton Microscopy and explore ways of tailoring such sources to enable optimal imaging performance, bringing this unique imaging modality to a wider market.

 

 

Very high power, ultrashort pulse laser micromachining (aka VIPUR)

45354

Laser micromachining is ubiquitous; it is used to manufacture everything from display screens to the chips that power them. Lasers are no longer an alternative to traditional fabrication techniques, they are becoming the only method, especially in the area of pulsed laser machining.

Picosecond pulse duration laser micromachining has proven itself a natural progression from nanosecond machining where precise control of a cut or material ablation is required. Picosecond micromachining is characterised by delivering a small amount of energy to the workpiece, therby limiting collateral damage, but retaining the peak power required to machine the material. There are a large number of material applications that require modest (Watts to tens of Watts) of average power to effectively process, and these are addressed by a number of commercially available lasers. There are however a growing number of applications that require a very large amount of power: from hundreds of Watts towards a kilowatt.  A decade ago the thought of several Watts of ultrafast laser power was unthinkable, but technologies have improved to allow this to be commonplace. The next step to a kilowatt of ultrafast laser power requires equal levels of innovation.

The goal of the project is to develop the laser amplifier technology required to increase existing picosecond laser power towards the kilowatt level. Specificaly, the goal of the project is to build a demonstrator system delivering more than 100W of average power with pulses of duration less than 15 picoseconds and to demonstrate a scalability towards a kilowatt.

 

 

Steered LIDAR Resource Performance and Condition Monitoring For Optimising Offshore Wind Infrastructure (aka NITEOWL)

288171

This project seeks to take a new LIDAR system from construction of field demonstrator through to installation on wind farm and environmental test for marine ruggedisation.  The programmable scanning LIDAR under development will bring a step change in LIDAR measurement capability and enable wind farm operators to really know the wind profile that is hitting their turbine, rather than being kept ignorant by unrepresentative hub height measurements. A number of innovative steps will be employed in order to improve accuracy and capability.  This will enable the total farm output to be forecast from seconds to minutes ahead, thus enabling truly flexible grid resource planning.  The system will also offer savings by reducing infrastructure failure rates.  This will be achieved by augmenting condition monitoring systems with detailed mapping of the incident wind vector field. As an added bonus the system will highlight yaw misalignment. The system will assist wind turbine parameter tuning so that wind turbine may be set up like a race car for the relevant operating conditions. 

 

 

Wake anemometry for yaw error correction: feasibility and risk evaluation  (aka Wayfarer)

345310

Wind energy is becoming a vital ingredient in the nation's energy mix.  Displacing fossil fuels and exploiting our unique natural resource, wind energy seems to be entering a golden age.  However, the cost of offshore wind in particular remains relatively high and can begin to hold back uptake of this low carbon option.  An important part of the energy costs comes from the maintenance and servicing of large offshore facilities.  Reducing wear and downtime and improving individual turbine efficiency is an important goal for the designers of the next generation of wind turbines. Behind every wind turbine there is generated a wake pattern that can give us vital information about the alignment of a turbine.  This project will look at the feasibility of low cost advanced anemometry techniques to measure wake patterns as part of a turbine yaw control system, this will enable turbines to always be at optimum yaw angle thus reducing uneven loading on the blades and ensuring optimum efficiency.  The expected outcome from the project will be a system level design and route to commercialisation of a low-cost yaw control system.