The Group has a wide range of facilities for the design, production and testing of electronic, communication and optical equipment.
Some of the main research facilities are:
- Computer Aided Design Laboratory
- Electronics Research Laboratories
- Satellite Applications Laboratory Testbed
- DART - Digital Advanced Rural Testbed
- Internet Network Engineering Testbed
- Optics and Laser Laboratories
- Power Systems Research Laboratories
Computer-Aided Design Laboratory
The CAD Laboratory has extensive electronic CAD tools, including the Cadence IC layout, simulation and synthesis tools, the Synopsys synthesis and verification tools and a variety of other tools for the design and verification of digital and analogue systems. These tools are provided via Europractice, whom this University has been a member of since its inception, and indeed a University of Aberdeen design featured on the first wafer fabricated via this EC sponsored project.
Electronics Teaching and Research Laboratories
University of Aberdeen has had an active and successful group researching Internet engineering. The electronics research laboratories are housed on the second floor of the Fraser Noble building in a purpose-built research laboratories, adjacent to the teaching and honour's project student laboratories, the facilities include an electronics workshop to support research and final year project work. Undergraduate students undertake a project in their final year, most are aligned to our portfolio of research, providing the opportunity for students to gain experience of the challenges of real-world engineering problems. The laboratories were fully refurbished in 2012.
Satellite Applications Laboratory Testbed (SALT)
Just over ten years ago, broadcasters began to transmit Digital TV via satellite, increasing the size of the potential audience for a single broadcaster, and significantly reducing the cost of delivery for each household. The emergence of digital satellite systems, further increased the capacity of the system and provided an opportunity for niche channels allowing programmes to be sent to specialist audiences. Digital systems, based on the Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) standard now offer the viewer with much more than TV channels. A purpose-built roof-top facility hosts a range of satellite receivers, used to test and evaluate Internet services using DVB transmission technology. Terminals range from 0.3m to 2.5m in size, and include both commercial-off-the-shelf systems and prototype designs for new equipment. Work from the laboratory has supported design of a range of DVB standards for IP-based data transmission, including the Generic Stream Encapsulation (GSE), and the addition of IP networking support to the latest DVB-RCS2 specification.
Internet Network Engineering Testbed
The electronics group maintains its own experimental Internet infrastructure supporting a variety of testbed linked to academic and commercial networks. The testbed is well equipped with workstations, managed Ethernet Switches and IP Routers that are permanently assigned for network experiments, as well as other networking equipment. It fully supports IPv4 and IPv6 and is multicast enabled. QoS support may be supplied when needed within the network. A range of tools (constructed either in-house, purchased, or on loan) are available and may be used to monitor, analysis and implementation of communications protocols. The testbed supports active development of open standards, and contribution to open source software projects. The testbed operates in climate-controlled suite with researchers granted remote access to control, logging, and monitoring functions.
Digital Advanced Rural Testbed (DART)
DART is one of five network service demonstrators funded by the UK Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to test business models, applications and advanced services developed by a consortium of industry and academic partners:
Technology enablers have been used to create new services, applications and business models by combining adaptive variation of Quality of Service (QoS)/bandwidth, multicast, caching of multimedia content and micropayments. This has resulted in a testbed incorporating advanced infrastructure using satellite broadband to allow open and flexible experimentation by third parties (e.g., content and application providers). Avanti’s HYLAS 1 satellite provides the platform with over 200 rural users across the UK. DART brings together key players – so it can explore the combination of new services, network applications, and micro-billing. Trialists and experimenters are welcome to apply to use DART and other TSB service demonstrators.
Optics and Laser Laboratories
University of Aberdeen has had an active and successful group researching optical engineering for the last thirty years and continues to contribute to what has become Optoelectronics - a rapidly growing hot-spot for academia and industry. An extensive set of lasers, photographic processing and hologram replay facilities are used for experiments ranging from the welding of dissimilar materials to volume sectioning using the world's largest dual orientation holographic camera. Hologram recording and analysis are done on special pneumatically isolated workbenches and image replay can be examined minutely with the aid of two high-precision XYZ micro-positioning stages. The laboratories were refurbished in 2013.
This two ton camera takes 3D underwater pictures and is featured in the 2002 Guinness Book of Records as the most advanced holographic underwater camera. HOLOCAM works at depths down to 100 meters and takes in situ recordings of marine organisms. Control electronics enable the camera to be remotely operated from ship. The camera incorporates in-line (object in transmission) and off-axis (object in reflection) geometries. In-line holography is capable of producing images of organisms in the size range 5 to 250 microns (at concentrations up to a few thousand per cubic centimetre at the smallest sizes). Off-axis holography is more suited to the recording of larger organisms at much higher concentration levels. The camera exploits the advantages of each method by using both geometries to simultaneously record partially overlapping volumes of water. This allows non-intrusive and non-destructive visual recording of living organisms and inanimate particles in their natural environment.
The use of a pulsed laser coupled with the inherent high resolution and three-dimensionality of holography effectively 'freezes' the scene at an instant. Although recording takes place in water, the image is replayed in the laboratory in air. By micro-positioner translation of a computer-controlled video-camera through the replayed image volume and performing optical sectioning on the image, individual organisms can be isolated and their size, shape and relative location precisely determined. Image processing algorithms will allow optimisation of the image together with automated identification of individual species and enumeration of concentrations.
This was a second-generation camera, developed from experience in design, implementation and testing of HOLOCAM. Significant advances were made to incorporate digital recording, replay and analysis. In addition, the eHoloCam is one sixth of the volume and one twentieth of the weight of the HoloMar camera. eHoloCam has been deployed in the North Sea and North Atlantic (Faroes Channel) from the RV Scotia, a research vessel owned by the Fisheries Research Services Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen. Over 290 digital holographic videos were recorded containing several thousand individual holograms of plankton and other marine organisms and particles. It has demonstrated the deepest (known) deployment of holography at 500 m below sea-level in the North Sea although designed to be deployed to 1.8 km. eHoloCam is being developed by an industry partner (CDL) for commercial applications. This unique underwater camera will help enhance our awareness of the environment and provide a better understanding of the health of the oceans. The holograms can be recorded underwater to give 3D images of plankton - the tiny subsea organisms which are the basic building block of life. These organisms range in size from a few microns to several millimetres. A study of these creatures is essential for marine biologists in their drive to understand the oceans and its influence on our global environment.
Power Systems Laboratories
The Power Systems Laboratories are located on the ground floor of the Fraser Noble Building. Separate laboratories support both research and teaching in Electrical systems and power electronics. Purpose-built high power transmission facilities support experimental research. Equipment includes a test Direct Current rig with DC fault protection and DC/DC voltage transformation capability (900V, 30kW 5-converter Direct Current network). A recent addition is a 30kW prototype DC/DC converter and a DC circuit breaker. The DC network provides a unique capability to test integration of large offshore renewable power parks with DC grids.