We will maintain, as a proportion of EPSRC's portfolio, our investment in the fundamental, high-quality research that will drive forward technological improvements in this research area. This is an area that has far-reaching impact in a wide variety of fields; for instance, it will be instrumental in the introduction of the next generation of imaging technologies that are innovative and disruptive.
To help realise this aim, during this Delivery Plan period:
- There will be increased engagement with industry, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to secure greater input from them, with an emphasis on the medium and long-term applications to which this area can contribute
- Provision to sustain the level of early-career researchers in the area should ensure that the UK maintains its internationally leading reputation in certain fields. This would protect future capability within the UK research community
By the end of the Delivery Plan, we will have worked with the community to enhance its integration and collaboration with other research areas, particularly Plasma and Lasers. In addition, we will expand links with other researchers and end-users in other parts of EPSRC's portfolio, such as quantum technologies, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), manufacturing and engineering, through increased collaborative research.
There are internationally recognised UK groups active in light-matter interaction. Specifically, the excellence of their work in fields such as optical tweezers and traps is widely acknowledged (Evidence source 1), demonstrating that UK leadership and expertise in this research area is robust. The community's interdisciplinary work often crosses into related research areas and feeds heavily into a number of others (especially Quantum Optics and Information, and Plasma and Lasers).
Although the nature of the research is fundamental, it has huge potential and attracts a high level of interest from various industries (e.g. ICT, telecommunications and biotechnology), demonstrating its influence with regard to a large number of sectors critical to the UK economy (Evidence sources 2,3,4,5).
The expansion in investment by countries in Asia and Europe (e.g. Germany) needs to be considered when thinking about the UK's contribution to this research field and its ability to remain globally competitive (Evidence source 5,6). For example, many UK-based research projects are undertaken in collaboration with international partners, such as the Max Planck Institutes and Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US. Furthermore, some of the research in this area is led by a number of national facilities, including the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). This reflects the high priority that the government places on this research area.
There is a strong level of support for training through the CDTs (Centres for Doctoral Training) and DTPs (Doctoral Training Partnerships) and this should be maintained as a proportion of the area's portfolio. Provision for early-career researchers in the field should continue to sustain the UK's internationally leading reputation.
This area is expected to contribute widely to the Outcomes for example, through the following Ambitions in the connected, resilient and healthy nation outcomes:
C1: Enable a competitive, data-driven economy
C2: Achieve transformational development and use of the Internet of Things
C3: Deliver intelligent technologies and systems
C4: Ensure a safe and trusted cyber society
This research area will have an impact largely through improvements to the physics of non-linear fibre optics and optical metrology.
R1: Achieve energy security and efficiency
R3: Develop better solutions to acute threats: cyber, defence, financial and health
This research area will help foster developments in laser-based communication and infrastructure, as well as advancing communications and electronic devices.
H3: Optimise diagnosis and treatment
H5: Advance non-medicinal interventions
This research area can evolve new imaging technologies and contribute to formation of new optical materials.
- Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014: case studies.
- UK National Quantum Technologies Programme, A Roadmap for Quantum Technologies in the UK (PDF), (2015).
- Dstl, UK Quantum Technology Landscape 2014 (PDF), (2014).
- Photonics Leadership Group, UK Photonics: Future Growth Opportunity Roadmap (PDF), (2015).
- Institute of Physics (IOP), The UK's Performance in Physics Research: National and International Perspectives (PDF), (2014).
- European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), ESFRI Roadmap 2016, (2016).