Skip nav

Advanced technology project backed this year by DTI-led Technology Programme has applied for first patent

First patent applied for by Servocell-Led Consortium in £1m project backed by DTI-led Technology Programme

…Researching piezo effect in extreme environments …

London, UK. 31 October 2006 – The Servocell-led Consortium, funded in 2006, is developing commercially effective solutions that increase the stability of piezo ceramic materials in extreme environments and is already delivering patentable innovations. Backed by the Department of Trade and Industry-led Technology Programme with a grant in excess of £500,000, Servocell and partners presented preliminary findings from the £1m three year project at two international forums for advanced technology in May and June this year.

The project, managed by Paul Weaver, development manager at Servocell, will be concentrating on the long term effects of humidity and temperature extremes.

The consortium includes Servocell, Southampton University, National Physics Laboratory and Diameter Ltd. The project brings together academic and commercial organizations with the aim of driving an R&D project to commercial viability.

The success of the project will enable the use of piezo actuators in challenging environments initially for the security industry, but ultimately across many other applications, whether that is for weather extremes from the arctic to the equator, or the more punishing environments in space and in manufacturing environments.

“We presented preliminary findings at Ferroelectrics UK 2006 in Birmingham, and a paper describing substantial improvements in low temperature performance of an actuator at Actuator 2006 in Bremen, Germany in June. We have applied for a patent on that paper,” comments Paul Weaver, Servocell development manager and project leader. “It is very much our intention to generate innovations and patents throughout the project.”

This project is part-funded by a Collaborative R&D grant under the Technology Programme. The Technology Programme, launched in 2004, is investing directly in new and emerging technologies, and has been designed to help businesses work collaboratively with each other or with academic partners to develop technologies that will underpin products and services of the future. The Technology Programme provides funding using two of the DTI's business support products: Collaborative Research & Development and Knowledge Transfer Networks.

The Technology Programme is backed with real money. Over the period 2005-2008, £370 million is available to businesses in the form of grants to support research and development in technology areas identified by the Technology Strategy Board.

To date the Technology Programme has allocated over £330m to Collaborative R&D competitions, awarding grants ranging from £30,000 to £2.2 million. Around 450 projects have been funded spread over 40 technology areas. Nineteen (19) Knowledge Transfer Networks have also been established with funding of around £40m over 3 years.

Welcoming the new partnership, Science and Innovation Minister, Lord Sainsbury said, “This initiative provides a real opportunity to harness the world class expertise that we possess in the UK and direct it towards the task of wealth creation. By providing a focus for collaboration and delivery, this partnership should establish British industry as the world leader in this area and be an attractive proposition for investors.”

The reliable and effective use of components under severe operational conditions, such as aggressive or safety-critical environments, requires high performing low maintenance materials Servocell customers are developing innovative security solutions using Servocell’s current Active Latch technology - AL1 and AL2 products - benefiting from ultra-low power consumption, low noise and responsive electronic control. The project is responding to customer interest in the potential of the application. Device reliability is crucial in extreme situations particularly when it is dangerous for humans to work in the environment. The programme will allow Servocell to apply advanced coating and ceramic technology to develop the core actuator technology to meet the most demanding and extreme of conditions.

“This award will enable us to bring forward our research and development programme,” comments Simon Powell, CEO, Servocell. “We are delighted to be working with the University of Southampton, the National Physics Laboratory and Diameter Ltd. We have all worked together before on different projects and look forward to this one being as successful as all our previous endeavours.”

Servocell will present its results to its ProActive Partnership and its customer base to secure continuous industry feedback on the commercial appeal of the project on an annual basis.

- ENDS -

Notes to editors:

About Servocell

Servocell ( specialises in actuator mechanisms based on piezo technology for security, access control and valve applications, allowing OEMs to develop more commercially competitive products that are faster, smaller and longer lasting. The applications range from more reliable locks to gas valves in the 'smart' home. Advantages of the technology are much lower power consumption, long life and potential for lower lifetime costs. Complete modules, such as the Active Latch, speed product development for OEMs in all industries.

About Active Latch

The Active Latch is a powerful and innovative alternative to traditional solenoid-driven and motorised release mechanisms. At the heart of its mechanisms are its patented piezo-ceramic actuators, providing an unrivalled combination of movement and force. Servocell's Active Latch technology can be used as the principal component of any lock to replace cylinders and motor apparatus. Reliability is ensured with 1M operations and the low power consumption means years between battery changes.

Diameter Ltd

Founded in 2004, Diameter Ltd is a UK registered company formed to exploit pioneering technology based on advanced materials, adding value and improving performance. The company consists of two divisions: manufacturing advanced coatings and high-tech products with main stream commercial potential.

National Physics Laboratory

NPL is the United Kingdom’s national standards laboratory, an internationally respected and independent centre of excellence in research, development and knowledge transfer in measurement and materials science. For more than a century, NPL has developed and maintained the nation’s primary measurement standards, the heart of an infrastructure designed to ensure accuracy, consistency and innovation in physical measurement.

About DTI

In a world of change and competition, the DTI is working to create the conditions for business success and help the UK respond to the challenge of globalisation. Further information can be found at:

University of Southampton

The University of Southampton is one of the UK's top 10 research universities, with a global reputation for excellence in both teaching and research. With first-rate opportunities and facilities across a wide range of subjects in science and engineering, health, arts and humanities, the University has around 20,000 students and 5000 staff at its campuses in Southampton and Winchester. Its annual turnover is in the region of £287 million.

As the Department responsible for trade, business, employees, consumers, science and energy, the Department is in a unique position to contribute to the wider challenge of globalisation - enabling business and employees to prosper in the UK.

Southampton is recognised internationally for its leading-edge research in engineering, science, computer science and medicine, and for its strong enterprise agenda. It is home to world-leading research centres, including the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton; the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research; the Optoelectronics Research Centre; the Textile Conservation Centre; the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease; and the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies.

For further information, please contact:

For Servocell:

Gillie Tennant
Mahseer Ltd
Tel: +44 (0)7795 034 068

For DTI:

Alex Thompson
Tel: + 44 (0)207 215 6140