Equipment to Underpin Internationally Leading Research at the University of Bristol

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Research and Enterprise Development


The equipment requested will provide new capability and internationally leading facilities that will enable cutting-edge research and internationally leading science, beyond that which is possible with current instrumentation. The equipment will also facilitate greater collaborative opportunities with other Universities and industry nationally and internationally.

The "Advanced Electronic Materials and Devices" bundle provides equipment for research into new materials and devices for future electronic applications, ranging from superconductors for applications in power transmission and MRI to spintronic devices for sensors and computer memory applications. It will also improve thermal imaging capability for the study of semiconductor and hybrid diamond based devices which have the potential to transform future power electronic devices.

Electrical power conversion technologies have a vital role to play in managing energy demand and improving energy conversion efficiency, affording 'game-changes' in, for example, low carbon transport systems and energy supply networks. As these 'more electric' systems become more commonplace, for example through their adoption in aircraft and electric vehicles, new understanding of operation life and failure modes is needed. The enhanced capabilities offered by the equipment updates in the "Enabling robust design and analysis of electrical power conversion systems" will allow internationally leading research to be pursued in the areas of design for life, virtual certification and reliability.

Transmission electron microscopes (TEM) allow the imaging of both the external and internal structure of materials and are available in numerous configurations dependent on the specific nature of the materials under investigation. A post column energy filter dramatically improves the analytical and imaging capabilities of a TEM by allowing structural and chemical information carried by the electrons to be interrogated after interaction with the sample material. The requested Gatan Imaging Filter (GIF) upgrade in the "Supporting Analysis of Advanced Energy Materials and Soft Matter" will provide significant new capability to determine the structure and composition of materials at the nanoscale and provide new insights into how to enhance material functionality. The instrument upgrade forms part of a strategic investment in advanced microscopy provision at Bristol, and reflects ambitions for an internationally competitive materials characterization facility befitting the world-leading research it underpins.

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry (MS) are the pre-eminent techniques for studying chemical structure and reactions. They underpin nearly every program of research in catalysis (accelerating chemical reactions), synthesis (creation of new chemical entities) and materials (chemicals with defined properties and applications e.g. nanotechnology). The replacement of aging NMR and MS instruments as described in the "Underpinning Catalysis, Synthesis and Materials Chemistry" bundle will ensure continued cutting-edge investigations in these fields, and will provide new hardware capabilities that allow the study of molecular/chemical systems in previously impossible fashions, e.g., at low temperature for days at a time (NMR), or under unreactive atmospheres (MS).

The new "Wideband Multi-channel Real-time Wireless Channel Emulator" facility will offer wideband (160MHz) multi-dimensional channel (8 x 8) wireless channel emulation for sub 6GHz wireless transceivers allowing repeatable experimentation with real-world channel models (3GPP and 802.11, plus user defined scenarios). The hardware can also be reconfigured to offer channel emulation with cascaded bandwidths synonymous with millimetre wave operation, thus driving forward the "5G and beyond" research agenda.

Planned Impact

Advanced Electronic Materials and Devices equipment bundle: Our fundamental research into superconductors will lead to materials with improved critical temperature and current carrying capabilities which will be used for a wide variety of applications ranging from power-transmission to medical imaging (MRI) and mass-transport (high speed trains with superconducting levitation). Research into novel spintronic devices will lead to new technologies in computing and other sensor applications such as improved hard drive storage and magnetic computer memory (MRAM). Several UK companies are highly reliant on both these technologies (e.g., Siemens (MRI), Seagate (hard-drives)).

Enabling robust design and analysis of electrical power conversion systems equipment bundle: Electrical power conversion is a £135bn direct global market, growing at a rate of over 10% per annum. This technology is central to low-carbon transport and renewable energy generation. In addressing the challenges of high power to weight ratios, high efficiency and high reliability the equipment updates will have direct relevance and benefit to original equipment manufacturers and the supply chain, strengthening UK innovation in this area. These range from designers and manufacturers of power modules and passive components through to manufacturers of complete converter systems and system integrators, and are areas where the UK retains a significant presence and capability to exploit new technologies.

Supporting Analysis of Advanced Energy Materials and Soft Matter equipment bundle: The (University of Bristol) UoB is an acknowledged international leader in Materials Research, and cutting-edge analytical equipment such as the requested post column energy filter underpins progress in this research area and will generate impact through the science enabled for our collaborators. The new Gatan Imaging Filter (GIF) will improve analysis for advanced energy materials and soft matter providing immediate benefit to projects investigating the nanostructure of structural materials currently used in the Nuclear Industry; a key sector for local and national wealth creation. Longer term impact will arise from accelerating the discovery and development of novel functional materials.

Underpinning Catalysis, Synthesis and Materials Chemistry equipment bundle: The sheer breadth and number of researchers supported by NMR and MS in Bristol means that enabling chemical catalysis, synthesis and materials chemistry will impact a large part of the international physical molecular sciences community. Industrial collaborations that enable medicines to be developed more efficiently (or indeed for the first time), employ materials with tuneable and switchable properties for an array of applications are amongst the most obvious low-hanging Impacts which will arise from the underpinned research.

Wideband Multi-channel Real-time Wireless Channel Emulator equipment bundle: Through access to this state-of-the-art channel emulation equipment with a 5 fold increase in bandwidth commensurate with 5G and beyond systems, researchers at Bristol associated with EPSRC investments in FARAD, SERAN, TOUCAN, SPHERE and the CDT in Communications are the immediate beneficiaries of this new facility. In addition to access, they will also benefit from the training provided and the insights given by our industrial partners to its use and customisation. This will also be shared with colleagues at Edinburgh, Heriott Watt, Lancaster, Sheffield and Southampton, as well as the 5GIC at Surrey. The UoB's relationships with the University of Texas and New York University will also yield international collaborations based on experimentation using this facility through student exchanges.


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Description The equipment funded through this award has been successfully procured, installed, commissioned and is being used to support internationally leading Engineering and Physical Sciences research
Exploitation Route The equipment will continue to be used to support internationally leading research in wireless communications and in soft matter
Sectors Chemicals

Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)


including Industrial Biotechology

Description Influencing Government Policy and Enabling Connectivity on the Move - In 2016, UoB research in 5G and millimetre wave wireless access attracted the interest of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), tasked by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to advise the Government on what the UK should do to become a world leader in 5G infrastructure deployment. A visit to Bristol by NIC Commissioners to discuss the ongoing applied research, identified millimetre wave as a potential efficient technology option for gigabit connectivity. A former NIC commissioner noted that the research demonstrated 'that it was indeed possible to enhance both coverage and internet speed on trains and to connected cars by means of suitable track-side and road-side infrastructure' and 'millimetre wave solutions as well as their small form factor identified them as a potential efficient technology option for gigabit connectivity'.
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Description Secure Wireless Agile Networks (SWAN)
Amount £2,235,743 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/T005572/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2020 
End 01/2025
Title Data from "Anisotropic viscoelastic phase separation in polydisperse hard rods: non-sticky gelation" 
Description Data supporting publication "Anisotropic viscoelastic phase separation in polydisperse hard rods: non-sticky gelation" by Ferreiro et al., PNAS 2020 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Title vehicular drive scenario 
Description A vehicular drive scenario between 2 LTE basestations using the Prophecy Ray Tracing tool and the Bristol Geographical Data base has been created and this can now replayed on the Anite F8 hardware facilitating testing and optimisation of wireless devices. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Description BBC R&D and Peter Bagot, University of Bristol 
Organisation British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Department BBC Research & Development
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution PhD student, Peter Bagot, with the EPSRC CDT in Communications (EP/I028153/1) and industrial partner BBC R&D has used the Anite F8 facility as part of a 'hardware in the loop' validation of his research.
Collaborator Contribution .
Impact .
Start Year 2015
Description Millimetre wave technology enables fast, reliable WiFi on the move 
Organisation Blu Wireless Technology Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Facilitating a Bristol-based SME, Blu Wireless Technology Ltd, to develop and sell products, greatly expanding their business through trialling and deployment of their millimetre wave technology by FirstGroup Holdings on their South-West train franchise.
Collaborator Contribution Facilitating a Bristol-based SME, Blu Wireless Technology Ltd, to develop and sell products, greatly expanding their business through trialling and deployment of their millimetre wave technology by FirstGroup Holdings on their South-West train franchise.
Impact In 2014, University of Bristol (UoB) researchers, in collaboration with a Bristol based SME, Blu Wireless Technology Ltd, developed and showcased a new millimetre wave propagation model and novel link throughput performance tool, to demonstrate the use of antenna beam steering to support high bandwidth point-to-moving-point connections. Fig 1 typifies the results for a Manhattan grid and route, showing key performance indicators (KPIs: modulation coding scheme and throughput predictions). This dynamic link performance modelling tool was ahead of work elsewhere focusing on static indoor coverage and signal strength analysis. Subsequent research enhanced the tool through modelling path loss for indoor and outdoor environments, as well as incorporation of real-world maps for predicting realistic system performance. This was followed by millimetre wave channel measurements, to further understand the complex interactions (diffraction and scatter as well as impact of surface roughness) between objects at such high frequencies. Importantly, the equipment used by UoB (strategic donation from Keysight Technologies) offered both high measurement bandwidths and spatial resolution alongside rapid data acquisition, thus supporting multiple measurement campaigns for material characterisation and highly dynamic channels. In parallel, this work supported international collaboration with key wireless researchers in both the US and China yielding a seminal paper on millimetre wave propagation
Start Year 2014
Description Aspects of the disclosure provide methods relating to communication between a radio access node and a mobile device. One method comprises selecting, based on the location of the mobile device, one of a plurality of antenna configurations for generating one of a corresponding plurality of beams in an antenna array, such that a first antenna configuration generating a first, relatively narrow beam is selected when the mobile device is relatively far from the radio access node, and a second antenna configuration generating a second, relatively wide beam is selected when the mobile device is relatively close to the radio access node. A second method comprises obtaining location information relating to the location of a mobile device along a predetermined path; and initiating a handover procedure based on the location of the mobile device. 
IP Reference WO2019002867 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2019
Licensed Commercial In Confidence
Impact Through integration and patenting [E] of the sub-components from MANTRA [F], alongside demonstrations to Network Rail, communications regulator OFCOM, and the departments of transport and digital, '1Gb/s of connectivity being continuously maintained between a moving train and trackside poles along 17km of track at the Rail Innovation and Development Centre' was showcased [G@2:20]. From here, FirstGroup achieved a 'global first on the Isle of Wight (Fig 5) with rail-5G delivering over a gigabit o
Title 5G mm Wave products 
Description In 2014, University of Bristol (UoB) researchers, in collaboration with a Bristol based SME, Blu Wireless Technology Ltd [i], developed and showcased a new millimetre wave propagation model and novel link throughput performance tool, to demonstrate the use of antenna beam steering to support high bandwidth point-to-moving-point connections. UoB collaboration with Blu Wireless to improve understanding of millimetre wave propagation predication and performance estimation underpinned the launch of the company's first millimetre-wave product (Lightning Modem) in 2015. 
Type Of Technology New/Improved Technique/Technology 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Mobile phone coverage of the UK's 19,000 miles of railway is notoriously poor. Underpinned by research from the University of Bristol, FirstGroup through evo-rail ( has now deployed 5G-rail millimetre wave wireless technology to provide gigabit connectivity from trackside to train. Their passengers can now access the internet on the move via conventional WiFi, offering a through-put 100 times faster than with cellular networks. The research also influenced government policy mandating train operators to improve broadband connectivity as well as facilitating a Bristol-based SME, Blu Wireless Technology Ltd, to develop and sell products, greatly expanding their business through trialling and deployment of their millimetre wave technology by FirstGroup Holdings on their South-West train franchise. In today's ultra-connected world, the ability to stay connected while on the move is essential. Passengers expect this connectivity on trains as smartphone usage and working on the move become more widespread. The impact resulting from UoB research has brought forth a step change in the provision of broadband connectivity for the traveling public. 
Description training event on the use of the Anite F8 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A training event on the use of the Anite F8 was held in Bristol on 16-18 September 2016 with researchers from the universities of Southampton, Sheffield and Heriot Watt, industrial collaborators including engineers from BluWireless, Jaguar LandRover and. In addition to in-depth explanations of the emulator's architecture and how this relates to the channel models in the latest wireless standards, delegates also had the opportunity to try some hands-on experimentation with this new equipment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015