Materials and Devices for Next Generation Internet (MANGI)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

The rapid growth of the rich variety of connected devices, from sensors, to cars, to wearables, to smart buildings, is placing a varied and highly complex set of bandwidth, latency, priority, reliability, power, roaming, and cost requirements on how these devices connect and on how information is moved around. Efficient communications remains a very difficult challenge for our digital world, and understanding how to design devices and systems that make good trade-offs between these different requirements requires skills from several disciplines.

MANGI will underpin the critical mass and expertise in Bristol's Smart Internet and Devices Laboratory (SIDL) enabling the creation of a Next Generation Internet, with career development of our senior and most talented postdoctoral researchers forming a core part of our activity. Bristol's SIDL brings together the Smart Internet Lab (SIL) in Electrical & Electronic Engineering and the Centre for Device Thermography and Reliability (CDTR) in Physics at the University of Bristol, and has a world-leading track record, spanning the complete digital communication engine from novel wide bandgap semiconductor RF/optical devices to state-of-the-art high performance network architecture design and operation, on the pathway to enabling the Next Generation Internet.

New devices and materials are critically needed as key enablers for the necessary transition from the current to the Next Generation Internet which needs to be energy efficient and provide highly flexible connectivity across optical-wireless domains. Using pump-priming projects to retain and develop our outstanding postdoctoral researchers, revolutionary interdisciplinary approaches will be developed in order to adopt high risk strategies focused on grand challenges aimed at enabling the Next Generation Internet. This approach taken is not possible with standard mode funding. Advances in component technologies, to provide higher speed/linearity, higher power devices, more compact device and packaging design, alongside use of new materials will have transformative impact upon network operation.

The flexibility of the platform will be a corner stone of MANGI, allowing our most senior postdoctoral researchers to develop and drive their own research ideas, with interdisciplinary mentoring by senior members of SIDL and industry. This will help remove blockages in current technology and overcome the current internet infrastructure challenges. Standard research paths are not able to support independent development and innovation at physical and network layer functionalities, protocols, and services, while at the same time supporting the increasing bandwidth demands of changing and diverse applications, largely because of current limitations in semiconductor device and packaging technology and a lack of co-design of the multitude of constituent parts.

Planned Impact

Worldwide telecommunications industry revenues have reached $2.1 trillion in 2017 with the UK holding the top spot among the telecommunications markets in Europe. The Digital Britain Report stated in 2010 'The UK's Internet infrastructure is a vital enabler for the country's society, economy, safety, security and wellbeing'. For every £1 UK business invests in Internet broadband this creates nearly £15 in additional Gross Value Added (GVA) for the UK economy.

However as the world now transitions into what we call the Next Generation Internet (or Internet of Everything (IoE)) - the intelligent connection of people, processes, data, and things - MANGI will address the need to deliver new, intelligent ICT infrastructure solutions to address the enormous explosion of data volumes and the wide heterogeneity of network technologies and end devices. The project will create long-term opportunities, which will help transform Internet technologies and infrastructures. This will ensure that the UK maintains its unique world-leading research position in these fields.

Advances in component technologies alongside the use of new materials will be a key enabler for the research in this programme. Today's technologies are designed to perform specific operations and functions (i.e. RF or optical operation) and therefore cannot optimally support application diversity and dynamics for the Internet. A clear example of this is the current complete separation of the 5G mobile packet core from the Internet transport infrastructure, which results in an inefficient disconnect between mobile and Internet services.

Bristol is one of the leading proponents of flexible duplexing technologies, demonstrating the advantages of this disruptive approach to RF system design using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components. Using materials and integration techniques to be developed through MANGI, a highly compact and more flexible solution is viable, thus competing with the RF filter bank technogy available through the Qualcomm & TDK joint venture. This would potentially open-up the $18 billion market in the 25 million filters foreseen in mobile devices (IoT, Drones, Robotics, Automotive) in 2020.

GaN and diamond technologies targeted in this programme have according to Yole Market Reports in 2015 already reached market values in the several $ billion range. In terms of device technology impact, GaN technology has already demonstrated impressive microwave performances for high power amplifiers (HPAs) in terms of power level, power density, power-added efficiency (PAE), bandwidth and robustness, clearly exceeding those permitted by the existing Si Laterally Diffused Metal-Oxide Field Effect Transistor (LDMOS), GaAs Pseudomorphic High Electron Mobility Transistor (PHEMT) or Heterojunction Bipolar Transistor (HBT) technologies. Diamond itself, as an integration part of GaN devices and as heat spreaders, is already starting to further transform the already outstanding power handling capability of these devices. The UK has the leading diamond supplier, Element-Six, who have recently established a £20M Diamond Innovation Centre at Harwell, Oxford, and who is a natural beneficiary of spinning out new diamond heat sinking technology.

The outcomes of the Platform Grant will be exploited in partnership with our industrial team (ADVA, Element-Six, Huawei, Keysight, MACOM, Polatis, Toshiba) who form an integral part of this project. Critically this project develops the researcher leaders of the future from our most senior and excellent postdoctoral researchers. The research will therefore have long term benefits for the UK, in research developments, industrial exploitation as well as in growing the next generation of leading academics and industrialists. In terms of academic impact, we will create a platform for research, education, cross-disciplinary interactions and co-operation at national and international level.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Initial project targets have been set
Exploitation Route Companies are partner in this project and are being updated regularily.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics

 
Description Initial projects have been asigned to the PDRAs in this Platform grant.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Electronics
Impact Types Economic