Electronic and Electrical Engineering Research Strategy

Context

The Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering is one of the leading departments worldwide in its subject area. Of departments that submitted all their academic research staff for assessment in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), UCL was ranked as the leading department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering in the UK in terms of research outputs, with 37.7% of research outputs given the highest 4* world leading rating and 58.3% given 3* internationally excellent. Departments were also assessed for the non-academic impact of their research and for the quality of their research environment to arrive at an overall rating. Here UCL was ranked as one of the top two departments of Electronic and Electrical Engineering in the UK who submitted all of their academic research staff for assessment, with an overall ratings profile of 40% 4*, 57% 3*, 3% 2* and no 1* or unclassified activity.

Research Strategy

The research strategic focus of the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering is on information: information sensing, ranging from nerve impulses to radar returns; information processing from specialised analogue and digital signal processing to systems for “beyond Moore’s Law” quantum information processing; information transmission, with new coding approaches, advanced wireless systems and technologies at up to THz frequencies, optical communications systems that will reach the ultimate throughput limits of optical fibre and the exploration of new network and service approaches to enable the future internet; information output from nerve amplifiers to advanced display modelling. Our research spans the range of the subject from fundamental materials investigations through the creation of novel devices and sub-systems to large-scale systems studies. Since energy, manufacturing and public policy considerations underpin all electronic systems and their applications we integrate these considerations in all our work with active participation in the worldwide GreenTouch collaboration for energy efficient Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and participation in UCL Engineering initiatives, such as the recently launched UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering. Our work involves extensive industrial and other user collaboration, a noteworthy example is our involvement with the BBC Research and Development-UCL strategic partnership.

The department’s research areas comprise the following five Research Groups:

  • Communications and Information Systems
  • Electronic Materials and Devices
  • Photonics
  • Optical Networks
  • Sensors, Systems and Circuits

 

Vision and Priorities

We aspire to become the best Electronic and Electrical Engineering department in Europe, and one that is routinely recognized as among the top 5 departments in the world. We strive for excellence across the board, via seamless integration of research, teaching and knowledge transfer. We want to grow our 4* stature and be seen as the global leader, because of our innovative minds, scientific scholarship and engineering effectiveness. Examples of our key priorities are listed below.

  • A key part of our research strategy, supported by UCL Engineering, is to create and lead a new Communications Institute, which will bring together all communications and networking activities across the Unit and other UCL departments, since we recognise that the future communication landscape will require both vertical and horizontal integration across different disciplines.
  • In quantum technologies, we have played a major role in the successful acquisition of two new grants, (£9.0 M for quantum technologies capital investment and £3.6 M to found a training and skills hub in quantum systems engineering). These grants, which are cross-faculty, are part of the Government’s £256 Million strategic initiative in the Quantum Science and Technology area. We are working to secure further money to provide long term funding for our research staff, and the necessary costs involved in generating new quantum information and IP in this important and emerging area. Our work has generated considerable industrial interest and, with our partners, we are engaged in experimentation in many different quantum areas which will further enhance our substantial reputation in this area.
  • Our work to support and enhance our existing specialist research areas will be complemented by initiatives to grow interdisciplinary activity in collaboration with, for example, the UCL Energy Institute, the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering and the UCL Robotics Institute.
  • We plan to further strengthen all our research activities and influence future and emerging technologies and applications. For example: (i) our optical networks research is setting the scene for 2020 and beyond, covering different time- and length-scales; (ii) in the THz work we intend to demonstrate the first ultra-high capacity (> 10 Gb/s) THz wireless systems based on photonic signal generation and apply our coherent techniques to quantum state manipulation and information processing applications, as well as develop HyperTerahertz technologies; (iii) in the areas of electronic materials and devices we will continue to pioneer new Si-rich nanodevices, e.g. for memory and photovoltaic technologies, and new diamond (nano)electronics for high precision sensing; (iv) in the domains of systems and circuits we will extend our radar and antennae systems to new applications, and develop new bioelectronic medicines and biosensors.
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