CIT to lead €3.8m EU project to develop next-gen sensors for drones

22 Jan 2020

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CIT has been chosen to lead a new EU project with record funding to build tiny sensors for drones to monitor the environment.

Cork Institute of Technology’s (CIT) Centre for Advanced Photonics and Process Analysis (CAPPA) will lead an EU Horizon 2020 programme in conjunction with five partner institutions across the continent.

The ‘Optaphi’ project – led by CIT’s Dr Liam Ó Faoláin – will look at optical sensing using advanced photo–induced effects.

Students will develop advanced optical sensors focused on applications in the areas of environmental sensing, agri-food analysis and industrial process monitoring. This includes creating compact sensors that can be used in uncrewed aerial vehicles such as drones for environmental sensing, and for food monitoring on an industrial scale.

Funding for the project totals €3.8m, with CIT set to receive €1m. This is the largest amount in a single EU Horizon 2020 project to be awarded to CIT to date. It brings the total amount of funding secured by the CAPPA research centre in the past five years to €10m.

‘There will be great potential within this consortium to form the nucleus of a European university’

As part of the project, 14 early-stage researchers will undertake a doctoral programme with further study at two of Optaphi’s partner institutions, which includes the Politecnico di Bari (Italy), University of Bari Aldo Moro (Italy), Vienna University of Technology (Austria) and University of Montpellier (France).

A total of eight PhD students will be registered at CIT, and the project represents four new partnerships for formal double-degree awards with European academic institutions.

“The Optaphi project offers a great platform for the five partners institutions … to work together on advancing photonics research in the EU,” said CIT president Dr Barry O’Connor.

“There will be great potential within this consortium to form the nucleus of a European university, a project strongly supported by the EU Commission and by many governments across Europe, aimed at enhancing European cohesion in higher education and research.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic