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Promoting research and innovation excellence in Latvia

With the help of EU backing, the University of Latvia’s Institute of Solid State Physics has achieved elevated academic standing and greater collaboration between science and industry.

Digital Economy
Industrial Technologies
Space

An important step in creating a strong and thriving European economy is bridging the research and innovation gap between Member States. Launched in 2017, the EU-funded CAMART2 project has focused on Latvia, and more specifically on strengthening the position of the Institute of Solid State Physics, University of Latvia (ISSP UL) as a centre of research excellence. CAMART2’s positive impact on the ISSP UL can be seen both in its significantly upgraded infrastructure and in its operation. Since 2017, more scientific articles have been published and the percentage of ISSP UL publications in the top 10 % most cited publications worldwide has grown from 4 % in 2017 to 17.5 % in 2020. Additionally, Open Access Laboratory services were created, in addition to a new collaboration and technology transfer platform called Materize to make scientific services related to innovative materials-based technologies accessible to industry. CAMART2 also led to the formation of CellboxLabs, a start-up developing microfluidic devices and instrumentation for personalised medicine applications.

Investigating wireless optical communication

More recently, ISSP UL’s Laboratory of Visual Perception has been participating in a European Space Agency (ESA) project exploring the feasibility of phase retrieval adaptive optics for satellite-to-ground communications. The project partners will be conducting tests to see whether the wavefront sensor developed by ISSP UL can be used in free-space optical communication (FSOC). FSOC uses light propagating in free space to wirelessly transmit data, and could lead to gigabit data transmission between two satellites or between a satellite and a ground station. A news item posted on the CAMART2 website explains the advantages of this method: “As the atmospheric turbulence affects the speed and quality of data transmission between a ground station and satellites, adaptive optics, such as a wavefront sensor, could help to reduce this atmospheric turbulence, ensuring more stable data transmission.” CAMART2 business consultant Ģirts Ozoliņš of ISSP UL states in the same news item: “With this project, not only our laboratory, but also the ISSP UL has opened a new page in space technology research. We are happy to share our experience and contacts so that anyone with ideas and technological implications can apply for other ESA projects. We plan to develop the application of the wavefront sensor further. Therefore, to test the prototype of the FSOC terminal in the real environment (space), it is planned to participate in the next calls of ESA projects, establishing cooperation with larger industry players such as Thales Alenia, Lockheed Martin and others.”

Exploring future partnerships

New opportunities for cooperation with businesses were created when representatives of the ISSP UL’s Materize platform took part in the Optics and Photonics Days held in Turku, Finland, in early December 2021. Topics covered by the event’s programme included fibre optics, sensors, multifunctional materials, physical and chemical sensors, electro-optical devices, laser systems, and technologies and optical instrumentation. At the event, the Materize representatives met new potential customers and partners, opening the door to future cooperation with these companies. CAMART2 (Centre of Advanced Materials Research and Technology Transfer CAMART²) is based on a long-term strategic partnership between the ISSP UL and Swedish partners Royal Institute of Technology and RISE Research Institutes of Sweden. The 8-year project ends in January 2025. For more information, please see: CAMART2 project website

Keywords

CAMART2, Latvia, research, innovation, Institute of Solid State Physics, University of Latvia, ISSP UL, wavefront sensor, space

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