Amber pushes materials science into even more sustainable and green approach

For many of the researchers and staff at the centre which works with several other universities and third-level institutions, the successful inauguration of ‘Amber 2′ is apparently a vote of confidence.

Amber, whose name is derived from ‘advanced materials and bio-engineering research’, is a research centre focused on materials science.

It has a broad reach that takes in different industries and disciplines from communications to medical devices and renewable energy to manufacturing.

Amber builds a bridge between raw research and companies, be they multinationals or indigenous firms, looking for the next innovation that will inform their future business.

This next phase will lead to 350 new research positions between now and 2025 and is being led by €40 million in funding from Science Foundation Ireland – it is expected to raise equivalent funds from industry and other non-exchequer sources.

According to Lorraine Byrne, executive director of Amber, between 2013 and 2019, research at the centre yielded a swathe of results.

“In the course of Amber 1, in our fundamental research platform, we generated over 2,000 research papers. We collaborated across the world, both in terms of the European Union programmes but also with the US,” she says.

Dotted up and down its halls on the campus of Trinity, surrounded by equipment like microscopes and gear wrapped in tinfoil for conductivity, researchers are working with complex nanomaterials that are just a few atoms thick.

One of its most recent works involved Nokia Bell Labs on the development of slim batteries that store almost double the energy of existing batteries.

It’s a key component of making batteries last longer and more sustainable as well as fitting them inside different kinds of devices.

On the Amber side of things, the research was led by Jonathan Coleman and Valeria Nicolosi.

Nicolosi has also been experimenting with ways of printing slim battery components that could fit into products like wearables.

Research and development on battery life has not been as swift as developments in other areas of electronics, making it a vital area for researchers to find breakthroughs.