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A design for success

14 June 2011

NXP design logo WEB

Talented Cardiff undergraduates recently had the opportunity to present a research project on an international stage.

A team of students from the School of Engineering participated in the global final of the NXP Design Challenge, which took place at IMS2011 Baltimore, a conference in microwave engineering.

The team, representing Europe, the Middle East and Africa, was awarded second place in the world design challenge.

Run by NXP, a leading semiconductor company, the Design Challenge received more than 400 entries. Contestants were asked to build, test and display designs, based on NXP’s latest RF transistors. Prizes were awarded on the basis on creativity, design efficiency, usefulness, originality and proof of concept.

NXP Cardiff team WEB(L-R) Matthew Ayres, Robert Friedhoff, Owain Jones, and Michael Gray in Baltimore

The students – Michael Gray, Robert Friedhoff, Owain Jones and Matthew Ayres – are all undergraduates in electrical and electronic engineering. They were supported by Jack Naylon, Research Associate.

They designed a precision microwave heating system for microfluidic chips – miniature chemical reactors used in fields such as pharmaceutical synthesis and organic chemistry. Microwave heating is ultra-fast, highly efficient, and enables higher yield in certain reactions due to its selective nature. These advantages mean higher quality products, lower carbon footprint and reduced waste.

The team’s high-tech application impressed the judges from NXP who were specifically looking for examples of their transistors being used in the industrial, scientific and medical fields.

Having competed in the European finals, the students were awarded an all-expenses paid trip to Baltimore to present their prototype at the final.

Professor Adrian Porch, Cardiff School of Engineering, said: "To achieve second place out of 400 international competitors is a fabulous achievement and becoming finalists allowed them the opportunity to attend the premier worldwide conference in microwave engineering."

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