Held during British Science Week (6-15 March), STEM for Britain is an annual poster competition for early-career researchers in science, technology, engineering, and maths. This year, the contest attracted over 400 high-quality entries from dozens of universities and research institutions within the UK. I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of around 180 researchers that presented in the finals to Members of the Houses of Parliament at Portcullis House.
This post summarises the highlights from my experience of attending the exhibition (including winning the IEEE ComSoc award!), as well as a brief overview of my presentation, focused on ‘intra-chip’ wireless communication for 3D-ICs.
One of my favourite aspects of the STEM for Britain event was the diversity of the submissions. Researchers presented their work from a wide range of disciplines, with presentations covering topics from searching for leptoquarks (never before discovered subatomic particles), all the way to designing the next generation of ‘flexible’ airplane wings. Submissions were evaluated in two stages. Initially, a technical write-up was assessed by distinguished scientists, engineers and mathematicians from the leading professional bodies for each discipline. Following this technical stage, the selected finalists were invited to present a poster in Parliament to a general audience. This meant that, although the exhibition was technically very diverse, all the presentations were clear and easy to understand. The standard of the presentations was very high, and it was a great opportunity to learn about work from other fields, which sparked several discussions about inter-disciplinary collaboration.
Another fantastic and unique element of the STEM for Britain event, was the ability to engage with members of Parliament. I spoke to several Members of Parliament who were interested to hear about the work I was doing, and Arm Research more generally. It was also great to hear their perspectives of research within the UK, with topics such as sustainability, renewable energy and post-Brexit funding being top of their list for discussion points.
The overall winner of the STEM for Britain event was Sarah Houston, from University College London, for her submission “Using the Eye as a Window to the Brain in Multiple Sclerosis”. Her research was exploring Adaptive Optics (AO) to perform non-invasive, real-time blood velocity measurements for studying multiple sclerosis and other brain diseases. Other notable presentations included Andrés River Bracho’s presentation, from the University of Bristol, entitled “Flexible Airplanes? – Achieving Higher Fuel Efficiency by Continuously Adapting Wing Geometry”. His presentation won the Dyson Award for outstanding research towards a more sustainable future. His ‘flexible’ airplane wing has potential to reduce airplane fuel consumption by up to 6%, which could have significant benefits in reducing global CO2 emissions. I also enjoyed learning about the design of the U-Battery, a micro-scale nuclear reactor for powering devices in remote locations, and nICP, a non-invasive infra-red brain sensor (developed at London City University) for detecting brain injuries.
My submission to the STEM for Britain exhibition was focused on our recent research into developing three dimensional integrated circuits (3D-ICs), where communication between layers within the 3D stack is completely wireless. 3D integration is a promising enabling technology for the IoT in the near future, offering the ability to create technologically diverse, small form factor ICs. Constructing 3D-ICs using wireless communication between tiers (through near field EM coupling), means that stacking can be completed with no additional post-fabrication processing, making it straightforward and low-cost, ideal for such cost sensitive applications.
We have already fabricated two proof-of-concept demonstrators of wirelessly assembled chips, covered in more detail in our previous blog series, and hope that this research could lead to a wireless interface that vendors can include on their dies to allow pick-and-mix die stacking, just like building with Lego.
Our presentation caught the attention of industry judges from the IEEE UK and Ireland Communication Society (ComSoc) and was awarded the IEEE ComSoc prize for outstanding contributions to future communications networks.
[Left] Presenting my poster at the Houses of Parliament. Enlarged version of the poster can be downloaded here. [Right] Receiving the IEEE UK & Ireland Communications Society prize.
A total of five awards were available in the engineering category and, given the high standard of presentations from all participants, we were delighted to receive this prestigious prize in recognition of our work.
Overall, STEM for Britain was a fantastic event with a very high standard of presentations from a diverse range of researchers. I would recommend it to anybody considering entering or attending. It was a great platform to raise awareness of my research and it was exciting to have the unique opportunity to present at Westminster.
All five STEM for Britain award winners in the engineering category.
Download the Presented Poster Contact Ben Fletcher