30 May 2014—A collaborative partnership between academia and industry has announced a grant of £8.1 million (US$11 million) to create a new photonics center in Northern Ireland that will explore data storage solutions. Photonics approaches to data storage include holographic data storage, 3-D optical storage and laser-driven magnetic technology. The collaboration, led by Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Glasgow, will develop a new Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) at Queen’s under the auspices of the U.K.’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to help address the shortage of skills, products and systems in the photonics industry.

The new Centre, to be called the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Photonic Integration for Advanced Data Storage, will also address the shortage of skilled professionals in photonics via the education of a select group of future scientists and engineers over the next eight years. In addition to Queen’s and the University of Glasglow, partners in the funding of the project include the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland and numerous industry partners, including Seagate Technology, a digital hard-drive and data storage manufacturer in Littleton, Mass., U.S.A.

To date the EPSRC's CDT scheme has funded a total of £962 million for 115 Centres in the U.K.