An Integrated Programme of Technology for the Next Generation of Astronomical Instrumentation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


Over the last 75 years, radio astronomy has played a leading discovery role in astrophysics and cosmology. On four separate occasions the Nobel Prize has been awarded to radio astronomers. Innovations in technology have been central to this success. The continuous development of novel detector devices, innovative instrument design and their combination has produced instruments capable of panoramic multi-frequency views of the sky and also of very precise measurements of individual objects. Receiver systems of ever-greater scale, complexity and technical sophistication are now demanded and observations will increasingly be carried out on remote desert sites, on very high altitude sites (including balloons) and in space. The world-leading instruments of tomorrow can only be designed in earnest once the physics and characteristics of core devices and sub-systems have been understood. This is the basis of the proposal. To take a lead it is important to anticipate and be proactive. A world-leading technology team must therefore be innovative, multi-skilled and cooperate freely with external partners with complementary talents. There are few institutions well-poised to be in the vanguard, but Manchester is one-as such it can play a leading role in ensuring UK astronomers' access to the next generation of cutting-edge instrumentation. At long wavelengths the dominant telescopes will be Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope in China (with which Manchester has a joint R&D programme) followed by the Square Kilometre Array. Our response for the latter has been to assemble the SKADS team (with Oxford and Cambridge as UK partners and ASTRON as the principal European partner) as a multidisciplinary partnership of radio astronomers, radio engineers and semiconductor device experts. At cm- to sub-mm wavelengths, a multiplicity of instruments will be required and so this proposal involves a coherent technology R&D programme covering both the overall design of astronomically well-motivated types of receiver array, together with the production and testing of devices and sub-systems required to deliver them. The linkage of basic research with the wider economy is now an integral part of the remit of STFC. We share this ethos since industrial links can not only bring in new ideas and expertise but also release funds from knowledge transfer, licensing and spin-offs which can benefit the pure science programme.


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Battistelli E (2011) QUBIC: The QU bolometric interferometer for cosmology in Astroparticle Physics

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Bischoff C (2013) THE Q/U IMAGING EXPERIMENT INSTRUMENT in The Astrophysical Journal

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Du Henry H. (2012) Fiber Optic Sensors and Applications IX in Fiber Optic Sensors and Applications IX

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Ghribi A (2013) Latest Progress on the QUBIC Instrument in Journal of Low Temperature Physics

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Hafez Y (2014) A radio determination of the time of the New Moon in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Description New cryogenic systems and sub-systems for cooling detectors to sub-K temperatures. New RF passive waveguide components - horns and OMTs. New study of cryogenic LNA between 5 and 30 GHz.
Exploitation Route All current and future experiments using coherent or incoherent mm and sub-mm detectors will find our technologies to improve the performances of their instrumentation.
Sectors Education,Electronics

Description This grant was intended to develop a wide range of technologies to be implemented in future astronomical instrumentation. Several technologies developed in this grant - especially microwave and cryogenics - are currently used by several experiments.
First Year Of Impact 2008
Sector Education,Electronics
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description third regional conference research and innovation in Sardinia (Italy)
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Participation in advisory committee
Title Miniature refrigerators for astrophysics 
Description We developed novel sub-K refrigerators to be used in astrophysics research 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2010 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Generated interest in many other research groups in the world willing to collaborate with us. It ius a very cost effective way to participate in international collaborations 
Title Remote Cryogenic Thermometry Readout 
Description We have developed a data handling software for remotely control cryogenic receivers on remote telescopes (e.g. Antarctica() 
Type Of Material Data handling & control 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact System has been developed by industry (QMC Instruments) for commercial applications 
Description Cambridge 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department Department of Physics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Design of cryogenics and optics for the CLOVER project
Collaborator Contribution TES detector development
Impact Several publications on CLOVER technology
Description Oxford 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Department of Physics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Partner in the CLOVER project - we contributed the cryogenics, optics and electronics.
Collaborator Contribution RF design
Impact Several publications on CLOVER technology development
Title high aspect ratio e-beam resist 
Description A novel e-beam resist has been developed capable of achieving very high aspect ratios. This novel resist is called SML resist and it has been licensed for commercialisation to the company EM resist srl. 
IP Reference  
Protection Protection not required
Year Protection Granted
Licensed Yes
Impact There is a huge potential market for novel devices that can only be realised by using our high aspect ratio e-beam resist