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Polymer film to improve the aesthetics of photovoltaics

Polymer film to improve the aesthetics of photovoltaics

Polymer film to improve the aesthetics of photovoltaics


A new film to be added on photovoltaics aiming at improving their aesthetics without affecting their efficiency was developed. Through exemplification on small solar cells, it was found that complex designs could be easily achieved. In addition, as the film is removable, it can be easily modified according to clients needs.

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APPLICATION

  • Consumer electronics
  • Construction industry
  • Advertising industry

DEVELOPMENT STATUS

  •  Developed and exemplified on small photovoltaics

IP STATUS

  • Patent application filed in March 2020

COMMERCIAL OFFERING

  • Collaborative research and/or licensing

OPPORTUNITY


Photovoltaics are one of the most popular source of green energy. However, one of their biggest downsides is that they are not aesthetically pleasing. While some technologies to print complex designs on solar cells were developed, these result in a large loss in efficiency (up to 50%) and, in all cases, the designs are directly encapsulated in the cell, making them non-removable and non-retrofittable. This technology is a polymer film on which complex shapes and designs could be printed. This film can then be laminated to existing photovoltaics. On the other hand, the film can also be easily removed, allowing an easy method to change the designs. In addition, fitting this film does not result in any significant loss of efficiency for the solar cells as decrease in the voltage, current and power generated by the photovoltaics is minimal.

TECHNOLOGY


A robust printing procedure was developed to print a range of dyes onto a polymer. These dyes were found not to impact the efficiency of the photovoltaics while potentially protecting it from UV irradiation, hence increasing the cell durability. Both the dye concentration and the composition of the polymer can be optimised to minimise the efficacy loss. Dye composition was also optimised to create a wide range of complex colours, hence improving strongly the versatility of designs realisable with this technology.

 

BENEFITS


  • No need to intervene in the highly-optimised panel manufacture as the printed layer can potentially be applied afterwards including retrofit after installation.
  • Minimal change in efficiency.
  • Bright images, suitable for eye-catching context such as advertising.
  • Bespoke and unique images are readily created.
  • The layer can be removed and replaced.

Contact

Maria Lopalco

Technology Transfer Manager 

+44 (0) 777 3944559

Maria.lopalco@ei.ed.ac.uk 

 

Adaptive Receiver for Optical Wireless Communication

Adaptive Receiver for Optical Wireless Communication

Adaptive Receiver for Optical Wireless Communication


An adaptive optical wireless communication (OWC) receiver combining the near-quantum sensitivity of a single photon avalanche diode (SPAD) array and the classical operating performance of a linear photodiode (LPD). The device enables OWC with a single receiver in scenarios requiring a highly extended dynamic range.

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APPLICATION

  • Wireless backhaul
  • Visible Light Communication
  • Underwater optical communication

DEVELOPMENT STATUS

  • Prototype in development

IP STATUS

  • UK priority patent application

COMMERCIAL OFFERING

  • Licensing and/or co-development

OPPORTUNITY


With limitations in radio frequency spectrum and technologies increasingly representing a bottleneck for the expansion of wireless communication networks, OWC has attracted significant interest due to its potential advantages such as high data rate, and licence-free spectrum – both in terms of outdoor Free Space Optics (FSO) and indoor Visible Light Communication (VLC). The nature of OWC means that signals may vary significantly including to very low levels which would be below the threshold of conventional optical receivers (e.g. due to adverse weather conditions in FSO or blockage / dimming in VLC). There remains an unmet need for effective OWC receivers which can operate consistently across such an extended dynamic range.

TECHNOLOGY


Edinburgh researchers have developed a hybrid OWC receiver that is capable of transitioning from sensitivity levels of classical (e.g., thousand photons per bit) to near-quantum regimes (e.g., ten photons per bit). This is achieved by combining the capabilities of an array of single photon avalanche photodiodes (SPADs) and conventional photodetectors operating in linear mode (LPD), e.g., pin diode. Notably, the technology incorporates an approach to overcome the inherent operating gap that exists between SPAD array detectors and LPDs in high-speed applications, resulting in a system which provides reliable and smooth operation over a very large dynamic range of incident light intensity.

 

BENEFITS


  • Adaptive sensitivity spanning large dynamic range
  • Effective for high speed optical communication
  • Continuous operation under low and variable signal levels

PUBLICATION

  • Huang and M. Safari, “Hybrid SPAD/PD Receiver for Reliable Free-Space Optical Communication,” IEEE Open Journal of the Communications 10.1109/OJCOMS.2020.3023009.

Please note, the header image is purely illustrative.

Contact

Angus Stewart-Liddon
Edinburgh Innovations Ltd
The University of Edinburgh

+44 (0)131 650 9090
angus.stewart-liddon@ei.ed.ac.uk

Prof Spires-Jones and CogRx research collaboration

Prof Spires-Jones and CogRx research collaboration

Prof Spires-Jones and CogRx collaboration

Case Study
Prof Tara Spires-Jones is Personal Chair of Neurodegeneration and Deputy Director of the Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. Her team pioneered techniques for studying interactions of proteins in synapses in human post-mortem tissue.

Cognition therapeutics (CogRx) is a biopharmaceutical company working toward treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. Their lead compound targets amyloid beta, one of the pathological proteins in Alzheimer’s and removes it from synapses where it is known to be particularly toxic.  One of the big problems in the field has been that most of the data on synapses and amyloid beta has been found in mouse models.

SpeakUnique founders presenting their product

The Project

Prof Tara Spires-Jones and her team were approached by the Chief Scientific Officer of CogRx about research collaborations and these have been ongoing since 2012. Together, they collected data from human tissue using Prof Spires-Jones’ techniques and CogRx’s compound. Some of the data was published in 2014 and helped get the company’s clinical trial to the next stage.

Prof Spires-Jones and her team continued to collaborate with CogRx using mouse models and human tissue techniques developed in the University of Edinburgh’s lab and the CogRx compounds to understand synapse degeneration in Alzheimer’s disease. They plan to continue working together to understand the brain and develop life changing treatments for dementia.

How collaboration with industry helped the research project

“Engagement with CogRx has helped my research tremendously.”- says Prof Tara Spires-Jones. “They were collaborators on my successful ERC Consolidator Award grant application, allowing us to test their compounds in a new mouse model of Alzheimer’s and in human stem cell derived neurons.  This tool compound and the intellectual input from the CogRx team have allowed us to progress the field including confirming with super resolution in the human brain that their target receptor is close enough to amyloid beta to be a synaptic receptor in Alzheimer’s disease.”

In terms of impact for the world, this collaboration played a small part in advancing CogRx’s clinical trial, which if successful will help millions of people living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Why engage with industry partners

“Industry engagement is somewhat difficult to navigate at first because of the requirements to clear collaborations through legal teams due to intellectual property issues.”- says prof Tara Spires-Jones. “However, I think it is very important, particularly in the medical fields as the things we discover have the potential to help people and industry engagement can help move science from discovery to bedside. I also find it very beneficial to the scientific process as industry colleagues often have different ways of approaching problems, and very relevant skill sets to offer to projects.”

Support from Edinburgh Innovations

Edinburgh Innovations has provided valuable information and advice about consulting with industry. They also helped with negotiating contracts.

 

Personally, this collaboration has been very beneficial as in addition to helping win major grant funding, CogRx has invited me to be on their Scientific Advisory Board. This was a new experience for me and brings external recognition of interaction with industry that is beneficial for grant applications and career progression.

Prof Tara Spires-Jones

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SpeakUnique

SpeakUnique

SpeakUnique

Case Study

SpeakUnique creates personalised synthetic voices for use in communication aids by individuals unable to speak due to medical conditions like motor neurone disease, cerebral palsy and strokes. Typically, communication aids come preinstalled with a generic synthetic voice that does not reflect the individuals’ identity and often doesn’t match their age or regional accent. SpeakUnique allows people to use a short recording of their own voice to generate a synthetic voice that sounds like them, that can then be incorporated into their device.

SpeakUnique founders presenting their product

The Project

SpeakUnique began as a collaborative research project between the Centre for Speech Technology Research and the Euan MacDonald Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Research at the University of Edinburgh.

Euan MacDonald lost his own voice due to the effects of MND. He came up with the idea for SpeakUnique because he didn’t want his children to remember him by a voice that wasn’t his own.

The initial feedback the company received from research participants indicated that this novel technology was valuable and that it could improve the quality of life not just to the individual, but also to their families as their loved one can maintain a key part of their identity.

In 2019, a spin-out company was formed to allow the technology to be offered as a service.

“Transitioning from a research project has been an interesting process and a steep learning curve. “- say the CEO of SpeakUnique Alice Smith, “We’ve had to adapt technology developed in research to a sellable product. It has also exposed me to areas that you don’t see in University research, such as building a brand image and creating marketing campaigns.”

 

Support from Edinburgh Innovations

SpeakUnique CEO Alice Smith has been supported by Edinburgh Innovations throughout the commercialisation process, including forming the spinout company.

EI helped the SpeakUnique team secure ICURe and Innovate UK funding, and supported Smith’s application to the Royal Society of Edinburgh for an Enterprise Fellowship in 2019, which was then hosted by EI.

Smith and the SpeakUnique team won the Emerging Innovation Award for Staff at EI’s 2019 Inspire Launch Grow awards.

EI also helped to secure a licence to the background IP owned by the University.

If you are working or studying at the University of Edinburgh and are interested in industry engagement,  speak with Edinburgh Innovations – there is a huge amount of support in terms of engagement events, training and grants for people interested in commercialising research.

Alice Smith, Chief Executive Officer, SpeakUnique

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Novel Programmable Gene Activation System

Novel Programmable Gene Activation System

Novel Programmable Gene Activation System


A new technique adapted from CRISPR to control and activate a wide range of genes, at significantly greater levels than seen with techniques to date

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APPLICATION

Potentially powerful tool for programming bacteria for diverse applications in industry and research:

  • Tool to understand gene function, especially difficult to activate genes
  • Tool to understand cellular behaviours
  • Tool to tune and control metabolic pathway construction for the production of high value products using synthetic biology approaches
  • Reusuable library to activate multiple genes to produce high yields of products efficiently and effectively

DEVELOPMENT STATUS

Proof-of-concept demonstrated for:

  • Design and build of an optimised CRISPRa system using σ54-dependent promoters
  • Multi-gene expression profile screening platform using a reusable sgRNA library

IP STATUS

  • Patent filed 23 August 2019

COMMERCIAL OFFERING

  • Licensing and/or collaborative research

OPPORTUNITY


Advances in reading, writing and editing DNA are helping to drive the synthetic biology industry. Beyond gene editing, CRISPR-Cas systems have been developed for targeted and programmable gene regulation. However, until now, the limitation of existing techniques in bacteria have prevented useful products to be made cost effectively and efficiently. This novel system is therefore a powerful and versatile synthetic biology tool for diverse research and industrial applications

TECHNOLOGY


Edinburgh researchers have designed, constructed and characterised a CRISPRa system based on a eukaryote-like activation mechanism in bacteria, which shows strong activity, superior dynamic range and good tolerance to a wide range of UAS locations (at least 40 bp).

 

The system utilises dxCas9 (mutation of dCas9 based on xCas93.7) which increased the output dynamic range and further permitted use of non-canonical PAM.

The system allows a multi-gene expression profile screening platform engineering approach; only one pathway circuit needs to be constructed to generate multiple expression profiles, overcoming the bottle-neck of conventional library construction approaches.

BENEFITS


  • Overcomes low dynamic ranges of activation output seen in existing CRISPRi and CRISPRa approaches to mediate gene regulation. Levels of gene activation >100-fold higher.
  • System supports multi-input activation
  • Device works in E.coli and other species of bacteria
  • Device can activate multiple wild type σ54-dependent promoters (PpspA, PhrpL, PnifH and PnifJ promoters)
  • Tuneable gene expression; ability to scale the global expression level of all target genes proportionally by tuning the activator induction level
  • Reusable metabolic pathway screening tool; multi-gene expression profile diversities stored on a universally applicable library.

PUBLICATION

  • Engineered CRISPRa enables programmable eukaryote-like gene activation in bacteria. Liu et al, Nature Communications 2019, 10: 3693

Please note, the header image is purely illustrative. Source: Unsplash

Graphs: source

 

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