Ireland gets research money from exclusive EU programme

Trinity College Dublin team will lead €4.4m project that aims to speed-up data links a thousandfold

Magnets have always been a part of wireless communications but the current generation has peaked when it comes to the frequency of a radio signal

Ireland has won research money from an EU programme that is so exclusive it is reserved only for those likely to deliver a scientific breakthrough.

The Trinity College Dublin research team receiving the award will also lead the €4.4 million project that aims to speed-up data links up to a thousandfold.

The money comes from the FET-Open (Future and Emerging Technologies - Open) funding programme, and this is the first time that an Irish group will coordinate such a project backed by FET.

“FET is a very competitive programme from the EU’s Horizon 2020 budget,” said Prof Plamen Stamenov, who will lead the project called Transpire. “It is probably the most competitive call they have with success rates often as low as 1.5 per cent.”

READ MORE

It is challenging to win a FET-Open grant but the research is even more challenging, said Prof Stamenov, who is a principal investigator at the Amber centre, part of Trinity's Crann new materials and nanotechnology lab.

Too risky

“It supports research that is too risky for direct application like other programmes or too exploratory for it to be done as a single participant so it always involves a group ,” he said. In this case it is Dublin along with scientists in Germany, Norway and Switzerland.

There will be at least four scientists on the Amber team, and their goal is to come up with a completely new kind of magnet that can make data links go faster.

Magnets have always been a part of wireless communications but the current generation has peaked when it comes to the frequency of a radio signal. This is currently in the one billion cycles per second range but the researchers hope to take this to a trillion cycles per second.

Prof Stamenov said the current frequency range was very busy and getting overloaded. “If one needs to expand you have to look higher and higher up in the frequency space. We have never been able to go the highest frequencies we are trying to get into now.”

The project will have four years to achieve this, and it kicks off in January .

Dick Ahlstrom

Dick Ahlstrom

Dick Ahlstrom, a contributor to The Irish Times, is the newspaper's former Science Editor.