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Posted: August 27, 2009

NRF grants for Singapore high-tech research

(Nanowerk News) Six project proposals from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have received research funding from the National Research Foundation (NRF), following its second call for proposals under the Proof of Concept (POC) scheme. To date, a total of nine NTU projects are funded under the POC scheme. This reflects the significant role that NTU plays in leading Singapore’s drive for research and development (R&D) into new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship.
The projects are selected based on technical feasibility, novelty, and commercial viability. Each project will receive up to S$250,000 under the POC scheme.
The six winning proposals from NTU were submitted by a Programme Director, four faculty members, as well as a PhD student.
Seamless wireless sensing
The project by Dr Lim Hock Beng, Programme Director of NTU’s Intelligent System Centre, is about sensor networks. “Wireless sensor network is a highly promising technology with a rapidly growing market and many important applications,” said Dr Lim. “At present, the sensor node platforms from different vendors cannot interoperate easily with each other. My team’s project aims to develop the core technology to enable the seamless interoperability and scalability of different sensor node platforms.”
“We are thrilled to get this opportunity to pursue our ideas and develop useful technologies to be commercialised,” said Dr Lim. “The NRF POC scheme is a novel initiative that helps researchers to translate their ideas into innovative products and applications for the market.”
Power on high
Explaining his project ‘Development and Demonstration of Silicon Carbide-Based Power Electric Converter for Motor-Generator Control in Hybrid Electric Vehicles’, Associate Professor Tseng King Jet, Head of the Division of Power Engineering in NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Director of the Centre for Smart Energy Systems, said: “Existing silicon-based power converters are limited in their capabilities to operate at high temperatures and high energy efficiency.”
“I look forward to start work on the project, which aims to develop a new type of power converters based on the latest silicon carbide technology,” said Associate Professor Tseng. “The new converters shall have higher operating temperature capability with less stringent cooling requirements, higher energy efficiency, and will be more compact and lighter in weight. This will result in hybrid electric vehicles with better fuel economy.”
Increasing bandwidth
Associate Professor Liu Ai Qun’s project ‘Photonic Micro Electromechanical Systems (MEMS) Tunable Laser’ will potentially have wide-ranging applications in biomedical technology and the telecommunications industry, for example, increasing the bandwidth for higher data rate transmission in Internet communications.
“NRF is doing the right thing. Its funding encourages and motivates researchers with innovative ideas,” said Associate Professor Liu, who is with the Division of Microelectronics at NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. “I believe research and innovation should be the emphasis of Singapore for its next phase of development.”
Glowing solution
Associate Professor Sun Xiaowei‘s project aims to develop a new electro-generated chemi-luminescence (EGCL) technology with high efficiency and self-regeneration capability. EGCL is a kind of luminescence produced during electro-chemical reactions in a solution. “Solid organic light-emitting diode (OLED) has a reliability problem and bioluminescence cannot be powered by electricity,” said Associate Professor Sun. “EGCL provides a solution to both – it is liquid form with good regeneration capability and it uses charge recombination to emit light.”
“EGCL has great potential in a wide range of applications like smart phones and electronic wallets, interactive displays, flexible electronic devices, and micro display products, as well as indoor and outdoor decoration and lighting,” said Associate Professor Sun, who is with the Division of Microelectronics in NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
Developing antenna solutions
Explaining his project, Associate Professor Zhang Yue Ping, who is with NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said: “A 60-GHz radio is targeted for home video streaming and instantaneous bulky file transfer. An antenna plays a key role in the radio as it has independent properties that affect the radio as a whole. It is the antenna that makes wireless possible. Conventional 60-GHz antenna designs are often too large, expensive and difficult to integrate with the 60-GHz radio chipset. The project will demonstrate new grid array antennas and their integration method for an innovative solution of 60-GHz radio devices based on locally accessible low temperature cofired ceramic (LTCC) technology.”
“It is indeed an honour to receive the grant from the NRF,” said Associate Professor Zhang. “It is an acknowledgement that the project proposed by our team is of the highest scientific standard with immediate commercialisation possibility. The team was awarded the Best Paper Prize at the Third IEEE Workshop on Antenna Technology 2007 held in Cambridge University. We are looking forward to address the key challenges in the development of antenna solutions for 60-GHz radios.”
Anti-reflective coating
PhD student at NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Ms Eunice Goh Shing Mei, said: “My project is about producing a low-cost, high-performance anti-reflective coating for use on optical and optoelectronic devices.”
“I feel honoured to be awarded,” said Ms Goh. “This is an opportunity to further develop my project and hopefully, it will be a stepping stone for me to contribute to society.”
The POC scheme is part of the National Framework for Innovation and Enterprise (NFIE) announced in March 2008. The NFIE is a comprehensive national programme to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in Singapore, especially through the formation of start-up companies to commercialise cutting-edge demand-driven technologies developed from R&D.
Source: NTU
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