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Research area(s)

Displays, Electronics and Lighting; Polymer Processing and Biopolymers; Nanomaterials, Nanoparticles and Nanocatalysts, ionising radiation Sensors, transmission electron microscopy, applications in horticulture, security and novel display technology.

Research Interests

Dr George Fern’s (GF) group has a focus to deliver exploitable knowledge and IP that is implemented for society by the many industry partners across a diverse range of applications, e.g. micro-displays, radiation sensors to plastic films.  He has been researching luminescent and nano materials since 1998 and polymers since 2006, with industry and academia on funded IUK/TSB/DTI/EPSRC/NERC/BBSRC/BC, synchrotron and industry projects.  His laboratories are exceptionally well equipped with chemistry synthetic labs, UHV processing for organic (clean room) and inorganic materials, polymer processing, optical and mechanical analytical laboratories.  He is particularly interested in the characterisation of luminescent materials and composites properties using Brunel’s world class electron microscopy facilities available in ETC.

Current Research Interests and recent projects

Development and integration of luminescent materials for automatic sorting machine food packaging labels and processing of recycled polymer.  This project is supported by various industry partners including the NEXTLOOPP network who he collaborates to ‘close the loop on food grade polypropylene’.
  • Providing the 30% recycled content for food packing (PFP): An integrated stakeholder approach to solving 'hard to recycle' plastic packaging, G Fern (PI), L Henderson, K Tarverdi, D Smith, NERC, 2020-2022, £458,436.
  • PRISM, J Silver (PI), GR Fern, K Tarverdi, EPSRC, 2015-2018, £166,565.
Development of horticultural polymers and propagation systems.  Development of opto-materials, compounding, formulation of polymer/composite/nano-composites and extrusion processing and materials testing.
  • PURELIGHT (132743), Horticultural Film/masterbatch development, IUK, G Fern (PI), J Silver and K Tarverdi, 2017-2020, £246,293.
  • LIGHTWAY (132746), Artificial lighting for plant and algae growth, IUK, Dr Fern (PI), Prof Silver and K Tarverdi, 2017-2020, £246,053.
  • AgriFlex: Human-Centred Design for Sustainable Agricultural Plastics E. Pei (PI), G Fern, K Tarverdi, IUK, 2021, £39,636.
  • COVID-Secure High Street Work Stores, M Themis (PI), K Tarverdi, G Fern, IUK, 2020-2021, £75,369.
  • Additional funding from the Royal Society of Chemistry and the EPSRC IAA account have also been secured to support impact generation in these areas, 08/21-01/22.

Opto-electronic Devices for lighting and sensors

  • FEUD - Field Emission Ultraviolet Device, G Fern (PI) and D Smith, UKRI, 2021-2022, £224,826
  • High Temperature Radiation Hard Detectors, EPSRC (EP/L504671/1) Ultra high vacuum processing/coating of commercially sourced electronic grade diamond wafers and assembly into ionising radiation sensors for use at elevated temperatures up to 250oC, 2013-2016, £637,000.

Organic Lighting and Displays (OLED)

  • Enabling technologies for Cd-free Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diode Displays and Signage (Qandela), (28271) Dr Fern (PI) IUK, 2019-2021, £528,000.

Research grants and projects

Research Projects

Project details

Research grants list:  with funding from the Royal Society of Chemistry, Nuffield Foundation, British Council, EPSRC, NERC, BBSRC, DTI, TSB, InnovateUK, direct from industry and from Synchrotrons in the UK and Germany (DIAMOND and BESSYII

1.                       

Nuffield Foundation High Pressure Mössbauer and Raman Spectroscopy of Materials using a Diamond Anvil Cell.  G Fern, (14/03/02) for £5,600.

2.                       

Investigation of phosphor production, EU Industry, Prof Silver (PI), Dr Withnall and Fern (Co-I) (1/10/03-30/06/04) £80,813.

3.                       

ACELOOPP, EPSRC/LINK ISD grant to improve the performance and understanding of the electroluminescent phosphors used in alternating current electroluminescent (ACEL) panels, Prof Silver (PI), Dr Withnall and Fern (Co-I), Kodak UK Ltd and Pelikon Ltd industry partners, 2004-2006, £291,708.

4.                       

LINK ISD grant FLCOLOUR to develop full colour ACEL panels, Prof Silver (PI), Dr Withnall and Fern (Co-I), with Kodak UK Ltd, 2004-2006,  ~£147,000.

5.                       

Develop applications of phosphors, Prof Silver (PI), Dr Withnall and Fern (Co-I), UK Security Industry, (1/06/2005-6) £65,000.

6.                       

MNT project with industry on nanophosphors for displays and lighting, Prof Silver (PI), Dr Withnall and Fern (Co-I), Forge Europa, Cambridge University, Semilab Ltd, £179,939, 1/03/05-28/02/08.

7.                       

Design and Devlopment of New Generation Subminiature fluorescence Lamps (MuLAMP), DTI funded project to improve CCFLs for backlighting application, Prof Silver (PI), Dr Withnall and Fern (Co-I), LG Philips, Masonlite Ltd., Queen Mary College and Teeside Univ., 1/05/06-31/04/08. £195,765

8.                       

Pliant Single Layer Structure For Acel Panels, DTI funded project to develop ACEL panel binder technology based on a patent held by the group in collaboration with industry, Prof Silver (PI), Dr Withnall and Fern (Co-I) with Elumin8 Ltd. 1/05/06-31/12/07. £189,026.

9.                       

NOVELELS, DTI funded project to develop phosphors for conversion LEDs, Prof Silver (PI), Dr Withnall and Fern (Co-I), Enfis Ltd, IQE Ltd, Exxelis Ltd, Smiths (now GE), Westland Helicopter, Airbus Ltd, Bath University, (09/2006-08/2009) £250,533

10.                   

Direct industrial sponsorship, Investigation of phosphors for security applications, Prof Silver (PI), Dr Withnall and Fern (Co-I), UK Security Industry, £150,000 (1/1/2008- 31/12/2009)

11.                   

 

NanoProbes; Development of novel probes for biological submicroscopic multicolour imaging, BBSRC TDRI, Prof Silver (PI), Dr Withnall, Dr Coppo and Dr Fern (Co-I), other project investigators are based in the Biology department at York University, MRC and JEOL UK and Gatan UK (1/04/08-31/03/10) £412,608

12.                   

University Brief Award for Investigation of photo-luminescent and infra-red emitting phosphors for solid state lighting and security applications, G Fern, £14,910. (1/11/07-31/10/08)

13.                   

 

ACTIVEL, DTI project with industry to develop low cost ACEL displays, £296,000 (01/01/08).

14.                   

 

Plastic UV Radiation Protection Operating by Stokes Emission (PURPOSE PROJECT), J Silver, R Withnall, P Allan, P Coppo, G Fern and K Tarverdi, EPSRC, (09/09-11/12) £461,183

15.                   

BESSYII Synchrotron application: Characterisation of Photonic Band Gap Phosphors joint with King’s College London, A Michette (PI), GR Fern, J Silver, S Pfauntsch, R Withnall. (06/2008)

16.                   

BESSYII Synchrotron application: Can we selectively probe the local structure of only luminescent Mn{2+} ions in Mn{2+}-doped host nanocrystals? EXAFS/Optical Luminescence EXAFS Synchrotron beam time, DD Sarma, P Santra, S Muikherjee, A Erko, GR Fern (PI), R Withnall, 18 shifts (08/2009) (Approximate value of £11,300)

17.                   

BESSYII Synchrotron application: Can we selectively probe the local structure of only luminescent Mn{2+} ions in Mn{2+}-doped host nanocrystals? DD Sarma, P Santra, S Muikherjee, A Erko, GR Fern (PI), R Withnall, 26 shifts (05/2010) (Approximate value of £13,905)

18.                   

BESSYII Synchrotron application: Characterisation of terbium doped photonic band gap phosphors and nano-crystalline scintillation phosphors, GR Fern (PI), A Michette, J Silver, R Withnall, TG Ireland, 18 shifts (09/2010) (Approximate value of £11,298)

19.                   

Describing at high resolution the stacking disorder in electroluminescent phosphors, GR Fern (PI), R Withnall, J Silver, TG Ireland and M Leoni. (Diamond Light Source, BL-I11) Grant number EE4732,  6 shifts (19-21/05/2010) (Equivalent Value £24,675)

20.                   

BESSYII Synchrotron application: Site preference and electronic structure of the S6 centro-symmetric site in rare earth element doped yttria. GR Fern (PI), R Withnall, J Silver, TG Ireland,  6-12/12/2010 Estimate £11,298

21.                   

Viral Surface Plasmon Resonance, A novel approach to biosensing, GR Fern (PI), I Alberts, A Ray, J Kerr, (9/11-08/12) (£14,900)) Funding from St George’s Hospital.

22.                   

InnovateUK, Biopolymer-based Electronic Circuits and Displays (BEDs), Prof. R. Withnall (PI) and Co-Is were Profs J. Silver and D. Harrison and Drs P. Allan, K. Tarverdi and Fern, partners included Johnson and Matthey Ltd, Hasbro, Intrinsiq Materials Ltd, (2011-2014) £253,129

23.                   

EPSRC/InnovateUK, CONVERTED - enhanced solar energy harvesting in dye sensitised solar cells using nanophosphors and nano-structured optics, (2011-2014) £390,996

24.                   

Won Dragon’s Den pitch to EPSRC sector rep, Chair of the IMechE and Head of Brunel University London Research office for Impact Accelerator Account, Laser Lighting, G Fern £15,000

25.                   

MicroDisplay development with Industry, J Silver (PI) and G Fern (2013-2015) £140,000

26.                   

High Temperature Radiation Hard Detectors, GR Fern (PI), P Hobson, D Smith, J Silver, R Withnall, EPSRC funded and InnovateUK funded Micron Semiconductor Ltd, other partner was Schlumberger in Paris (1/9/13- 31/08/16) , £637,000

27.                   

PRISM, J Silver (PI), GR Fern, K Tarverdi, EPSRC and industry funded by InnovateUK, partners Nextek, Johnson and Matthey,  (09/2015-04/2018), £166,565

28.                   

InnovateUK, LIGHTWAY, partners Johnson and Matthey, Ixscient, Industrial Phycology, Lux-TSI, Dr Fern (PI), Prof Silver and Tarverdi, (2017-2020),  £246,053

29.                   

InnovateUK, PURELIGHT, partners Arid AgriTech Ltd, Colloids Ltd, Lancaster University, Dr Fern (PI), Prof Silver and Tarverdi, (2017-2020), £246,293

30.                   

Qandela, Innovate UK, Sharp, Johnson Matthey, DST, PVI, Dr Fern (PI) (2019-2021), £440,000.

31.                   

Laeticia Petit, Tampere University and George Fern, Brunel University, Particles containing glasses: fabrication and macro/nano scale characterization, seed-corn research funding, £10,000.

32.                   

Enabling technologies for Cd-free Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diode Displays and Signage (QANDELA) , Dr Fern (PI) additional funds, £88,052.

33.                   

COVID-Secure High Street Work Stores, M Themis (PI), K Tarverdi, G Fern, £75,369

34.                   

FEUD - Field Emission Ultraviolet Device, G Fern (PI) and D Smith IUK, 2021-2022, £224,826.

35.                   

AgriFlex: Human-Centred Design for Sustainable Agricultural Plastics E. Pei (PI), G Fern, K Tarverdi, IUK, 2020, £39,636.

36.                   

Providing the 30% recycled content for food packing (PFP): An integrated stakeholder approach to solving 'hard to recycle' plastic packaging, G Fern (PI), L Henderson, K Tarverdi, D Smith, SSPP, NERC, 2020-2022, £458,436.

37

Smart Plastics for Clever Horticulture, G Fern (PI) and K Tarverdi, Royal Society of Chemistry, 10/21-01/22, £9954.

38

Processing and testing Sustainable Agri films for the AgriTech Industry  (AgriTechSus), G Fern (PI) and K Tarverdi, EPSRC IAA, 08/21-11/21, £35,000.