THE world’s fastest computers and longest-lasting mobile phone batteries could be operating within five years thanks to work about to get under way at one of the country’s leading research centres.
The €1.14 million collaboration between Tyndall National Institute and computer chip and semi-conductor manufacturer Intel could also encourage further research and hi-tech manufacturing investment here.
It is only the second European centre in which Intel has outsourced its research activities, further enhancing Tyndall and Ireland’s reputation as a centre of excellence in nanotechnology.
The deal announced yesterday will put researchers at the Cork centre in direct and regular contact with Intel’s research headquarters in Oregon, working on materials and technology to further improve the company’s chips, which are used in around 80% of the world’s computers.
“We produce the most advanced semi-conductors, so we need to have the best research in the world.
“We can’t say this work here will lead to new or expanded manufacturing in Ireland, but it doesn’t do the prospects any harm,” said Intel Ireland research manager Leonard Hobbs, a graduate of University College Cork, which has close ties with Tyndall National Institute.
“The work will be looking at making chips smaller, more powerful, and more energy-efficient,” he said.
“In other words, in five to 10 years this kind of research will lead to smaller devices like computers or mobile phones, and with longer battery lives,” he added.
Tyndall chief executive Professor Roger Whatmore said the three-year agreement places it in the ranks of leading United States universities such as Berkeley and Stanford, where Intel already has research partnerships.
“The company has funded research positions here over a long period but for us to be working directly for Intel is hugely important for Tyndall and for Ireland,” he said.
Industrial Development Authority (IDA) chief executive Barry O’Leary said Intel’s decision to invest at Tyndall is evidence of Ireland’s strength in research and development.
This plays a vital role in foreign direct investment here and further embedding existing jobs, said Mr O’Leary.
The project will give the company a commercial exploitation licence to technology created through the collaboration, the kind of commercialisation that science and technology advisory body Forfás wants to see expanded.
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