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ERDF 310: Expanding the Physics and applied interdisciplinary research capabilities at the Faculty of Science

Project Cost: €1,622,545
Beneficiary: University of Malta
Line Ministry: Ministry for Education and Employment
Start Date: 2013
End Date: 2015

Non Technical Short Summary Of Project

This project involved the setting up of four new research laboratories and the purchase of equipment and measurement instruments, to enhance and expand the capabilities of the existing Electromagnetics Laboratory to meet increasing research demands, and to increase collaboration with industry, the Ministry for Health, the Elderly and Community Care and the Occupational Health and Safety Authority.

Operational Programme: OPI Investing in Competitiveness for a Better Quality of Life ERDF
Fund: European Regional Development Fund
Operational Objective: To undertake a number of smart investments in the knowledge infrastructure and research capacity in higher education;
Priority Axis: PA1 Enhancing Knowledge and Innovation
Focus Area Of Intervention: OPIPA1 Investment in RTDI and RTDi-related Infrastructure and ICT

Project Objectives

The project objectives are to improve existing facilities and to set up new ones in the growing areas of research within the Department of Physics, thereby improving and expanding the infrastructure of higher education. The facilities have been conceived in order to allow the Department to expand its current areas of interest, emphasising interdsiciplinarity, to the extent that it would be possible to carry out joint research projects with other entities. In particular, the ultra-wideband and optics laboratories will be able to conduct research in current areas of expansion of ICT hardware. Furthermore, the Ultra-Wideband and Electromagnetics Laboratories will together be also investigating cutting edge applications for health related issues. An indoor-outdoor monitoring and modelling facility will obtain data related to the current ventilation practices that can lead to more energy efficient buildings while the Geophysics Laboratory will gather data on the geological stability of the Maltese archipelago that can be used to assess the security of buildings in response to earthquakes, thus helping in the preservation of the built heritage and environment. Such research can potentially lead to the development of end products and techniques that can attract the manufacturing and construction industry. The research results will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presented at scientific conferences. The general public will be informed of the activities carried out by staff and students in these laboratories through periodic press releases coinciding with periodic University events, such as Open University Week, and occasional public seminars that have now become commonplace in the Department of Physics calendar.The new facilities, together with the existing ones established in previous ERDF projects, will equip the Department of Physics and the Faculty of Science to an extent that its participation in Horizon 2020 project would become desirable from the point of view of potential collaborators. Indeed, every effort is being and will be made to enhance participation in collaborative projects. This will be enhanced significantly through participation in COST Actions related to the research interests and activities of the department.

Project Results

Air quality Lab:• Publication in international refereed journals of at least two papers on indoor air by 2017.• Updating the radon (a radioactive gas) distribution map of the Maltese Islands by 2017.Geophysics Lab:• Creation of a data set of elastic properties of shallow rocks in the Maltese islands. This will form part of Malta’s eventual geological survey. This activity will commence by 2016 and will be ongoing.• Generation of earthquake ground motion scenarios using locally acquired data as a result of the project.• Publication of at least two papers in peer-reviewed journals by 2017.• Offering postgraduate degrees by research that will utilise the equipment procured. EM Lab:• Publication in international refereed journals of at least two papers on measurement and calculation of EM fields in the environment and/or at work places, and on the dielectric properties of biological tissues by 2017.• Provision of expertise and support to OHSA concerning compliance with Directive 2013/35/EU.• Design of a new short course intended for industry on compliance with the new directive by end 2015.• A study on static and radio frequency emissions from MRI machines in Malta by 2017.• A study of near field emissions from mobile phone base station antennas by 2017.• Offering postgraduate degrees by research that will utilise the equipment procured.UWB Lab: • The creation of three new study modules in the Physics undergraduate degree and postgraduate research in Wideband Communications.• Publication of at least two papers in peer-reviewed journals in the fields of ICT and health by 2017.• Report on the study of indoor wireless networking architectures by 2017.• An UWB demonstration system in the laboratory showing the capabilities of ultra-wideband communications• Offering postgraduate degrees by research that will utilise the equipment procured.Optics Lab:• Publication of at least two papers in peer-reviewed journals in the fields of advanced optics and laser manipulation of matter at the micrometre scale by 2017.• The creation of a new study module on advanced optics and applications in fundamental physics.• Offering postgraduate degrees by research that will utilise the equipment procured.