Project period: October 2014 – April 2015 

GW4 community leads

University of Bath: Philip Shields, Duncan Allsopp 
University of Bristol: Martin Cryan (PI) 
Cardiff University: Peter Smowton 
University of Exeter: Geoff Nash 

Project overview

This community will bring together overlapping synergies in nanoscale device fabrication, design and measurement to develop a radically new set of multifunctional sensors that will make a major impact in a range of sensing applications. 


Low cost, portable sensors are becoming commonplace, for example in mobile phones that monitor temperature, pressure and humidity. A new generation of sensors is urgently required that can rapidly test for diseases such as bacterial infections, monitor glucose or pollutant gases. 

Project summary 

This GW4 community was formed from four internationally renowned optoelectronics research groups at Bristol, Bath, Cardiff and Exeter. The community used funds both for workshops and for lab research.  

Specifically, the community took Bath’s world leading Gallium Nitride (GaN) nanorod technology (which has been developed to improve the performance of LEDs) and applied it to range of novel sensing technology applications. In particular the nanorods have been combined with Exeter’s Graphene technology to produce a potential mid infra-red sensing technology platform. Bristol has applied its advanced electromagnetic modelling tools to design the integrated Graphene-GaN nanorod resonant structures. Bristol has also worked with Bath to predict the performance of photonic crystal cavities resonant in the visible wavelength range which will be used for fluorescence enhancement in a range of biosensing applications. Cardiff has used the GaN nanorods as the basis for a new type of GaN blue laser that can be integrated into a laser based fluorescence system. Bristol has worked with Nunano, a Bristol spin-out company to develop free standing 1mm thick membranes of GaN which can be used to form a range of novel opto-electro-mechanical sensing devices based on Atomic Force Microscopy cantilevers.  

A number of journal and conference papers were produced, including presenting two papers at a major US conference in New York. Initially, the work was sustained through a EPSRC Manufacturing Advanced Functional Materials grant “Manufacturing NanoGaN” awarded to a Bath led consortium. Since then, the community have received an additional EPSRC grant for “Rapid Fluorescene-based Detection of Bacteria using Quantum Optics” and they are currently developing a further application.  

Recently, members of the community from Bristol and Cardiff were awarded funding for a pilot research project to investigate a low-cost, rapid, COVID-19 detection system