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Electricals & electronics

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A transparent electric kettle boiling water which is bubbling inside.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • How does that work?
  • Issue 80

Kettle switch-off

Used every day by millions of people across the world, electric kettles use a surprisingly simple method to overcome a long-standing problem: how to switch themselves off.

Casing for the M squared laser with the m squared logo stuck on.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Issue 81

Lasers to change the world

Enter any laboratory in academia or industry and there is a good chance that among their instruments, scientists will make regular use of a tunable solid-state laser from M Squared, using it for fundamental physics research. Born out of an academic research group, over the years M Squared has collected many awards for its lasers. Michael Kenward OBE spoke to Dr Graeme Malcolm OBE FRSE, CEO and Co-Founder, about the engineering that has made this possible.

Quick read

A man standing in front of a display that says "Welcome to COP26" on several shelves full of different plants.
  • Energy
  • Environment & sustainability
  • Electricals & electronics
  • How I got here

Q&A: Mark Goudie

Mark Goudie is one of the youngest engineering Fellows in the UK, an inventor, and an engineer in the energy sector.

Quick read

An abstract photo of a mesh, conceptualising the Internet of Things
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Technology & robotics
  • Opinion
  • Issue 96

Securing the Internet of Everything

Our IoT devices need engineers to safeguard our privacy, say Oktay Cetinkaya and Peter Novitzky.

Stylised artist's impression of an undersea cable in the foreground, with a cutaway showing the internal optical fibres, and whales depicted far in the background,
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Technology & robotics
  • Issue 96

Undersea information sharing

Undersea cables transport vast amounts of data across the world – and even detect whales and earthquakes.

A NASA satellite floating in space, with the Moon visible behind it.
  • Aerospace
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Issue 95

Lift-off for the UK's space industry

The UK has an impressive history in space and a now-thriving space sector, with three new spaceports on the way.

Quick read

A scanning electron microscopy image of a spider mite crawling on a microelectromechanical system.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Technology & robotics
  • How does that work?
  • Issue 94

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) help to make many of our everyday items work, from Air Pods to airbags.

  • Electricals & electronics
  • Environment & sustainability
  • Materials
  • Issue 94

Powering the pursuit of net zero

It's electrifying: what’s needed before emerging battery technologies are fully charged for a clean green future?

Quick read

  • Civil & structural
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Innovation Watch

The sensors making cities and structures smarter

UtterBerry’s matchbox-sized sensors form a network, akin to the human body’s sensory system, that provides early warning when maintenance might be needed or damage repaired.

To represent the importance of time to the economy, a hand holding a coin with a clock face is moving to insert it into a slot.
  • Aerospace
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Technology & robotics
  • Issue 92

Why microseconds matter

Time’s time to shine: why is ultra-precise time so important for everything from bank transactions to public transport? The NPL’s Dr Leon Lobo explains all.

Quick read

A photograph of Jean sitting at a desk adjusting the dial on an oscillator with one hand and holding a cable in the other.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • How I got here
  • Issue 91

Q&A: Jean Morris

A passion for physics led Jean Morris onto a graduate scheme at Airbus and a placement in Munich after University before her role as a research engineer at the National Physical Laboratory, where she won an award for pandemic service.

Quick read

A black and white close up picture of a robotic vacuum.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Technology & robotics
  • How does that work?
  • Issue 90

Robotic vacuum cleaners

Twenty years after the Roomba's original release, the latest generation of robotic vacuum cleaners incorporate sophisticated machine vision technology to steer clear of electrical cables, stray socks and pet poo.

Quick read

  • Electricals & electronics
  • Software & computer science
  • Issue 90

Q&A: Rose Grey

Rose Grey is a higher software engineer at location services startup Focal Point Positioning (FocalPoint). She recently received an award from the Royal Institute of Navigation.

  • Electricals & electronics
  • Technology & robotics
  • Profiles
  • Issue 90

An innovator who fills a vacuum

From outer space to the depths of the earth, Professor Trevor Cross FREng seeks new uses of the technologies that enabled the electronic revolution.

  • Aerospace
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Software & computer science
  • Issue 90

Supercharging GPS precision

With the help of startup FocalPoint (headed up by ‘the real-life Q’), we examine the past, present and near-future of this integral technology.

A black and white photograph of a six-year-old girl wearing glasses and a polka dot dress.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Profiles
  • Issue 88

The outsider who changed the system

As a Jewish Holocaust survivor, political refugee and woman in engineering, Dr Agnes Kaposi FREng has every reason to call herself an outsider. But it didn’t stop her from becoming the third woman ever to be elected as a Royal Academy of Engineering Fellow.

  • Aerospace
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Issue 88

Why a 1960s technology is at the frontier of space exploration

In February 2021, NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars, fitted with a suite of seven instruments designed to search for signs of past and present life. Tereza Pultarova spoke to Paul Jerram, Chief Engineer at Teledyne e2v, about the CCD technology at the heart of two of these cutting-edge scientific devices.

  • Environment & sustainability
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Issue 85

Charging into the future

The all-electric Jaguar I-PACE has collected many awards since it first left car showrooms in 2018, including its engineering team being recognised as MacRobert Award finalists. Michael Kenward CBE spoke to Jaguar Land Rover’s Stephen Boulter, Vehicle Engineering Manager for I-PACE, and Nick Rogers FREng, Executive Director Product Engineering, about the challenges of developing the company’s first electric vehicle.

Quick read

A fried egg in a pan on an induction hob.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • How does that work?
  • Issue 83

Induction hobs

In an induction hob, a coil of copper wire is placed under a cooking pot and an alternating electric current passed through it. The resulting oscillating magnetic field wirelessly induces an electrical current in the pot, warming it up and cooking the food inside.

An electric car being charged.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Mechanical
  • Issue 83

Replacing the batteries

With governments and businesses committing to net zero and eliminating emissions of carbon dioxide, the pressure is on to replace fossil fuels. Electrification of transport, the largest source of CO2, is a key part of the UK’s approach to this. Professor David Greenwood from WMG at the University of Warwick discusses the UK’s Faraday Battery Challenge, which supports R&D at all stages of the electrification of transport, from new battery technologies through to disposal and recycling.

A headshot of Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Environment & sustainability
  • Profiles
  • Issue 82

Life in electrifying times

Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, was elected President of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He has worked as a transmission and distribution engineer. He joined the academic world when the electric industry was going through a business and technology revolution, becoming immersed in sustainable energy policy issues along the way.

A schematic of Earth with 28 satellites orbiting in three orbital planes for the Galileo satellite navigation system.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Aerospace
  • Technology & robotics
  • How does that work?
  • Issue 81

Global positioning system

The global positioning system (GPS) enables anyone with a smartphone or navigation units on cars to pinpoint their location or tell the time. Initially developed for military use, it now has applications ranging from aviation safety and banking to rescuing ships in distress.

A portrait photo of Stephen Temple FREng.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Profiles
  • Issue 81

A spectrum of generations games

Stepen Temple CBE FREng worked as an engineer within government to shape modern telecommunications and lay the foundation for today’s trillion-dollar global mobile industry. His career in the civil service has spanned the history of mobile telephony and he managed to recue 5G from a bureaucratic black hole.

A artistic representation of a collection of optical fibres with light being transported to the end of the fibre.
  • Technology & robotics
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Issue 79

Hollowing out a future in fibre optics

Optical fibres are used in many settings, from computer networks to broadcasting and medicine, to carry information. The fibres are usually made up of strands of glass, each one thinner than human hair, but researchers have been working on fibres to transmit data that contain just air. Dr Matthew Partridge from the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre discusses how these fibres were developed and the benefits they could have in communications.

  • Electricals & electronics
  • Materials
  • How I got here
  • Issue 79

Q&A: Zoe Dobell

Zoe Dobell is a systems engineer at Transport for London (TfL). She’s currently working on the Central Line Improvement Programme (CLIP), where she is integrating new systems that are being retrofitted onto the trains.

Quick read

The A-Ultra handheld device resting against a helmet displaying the words '100% complete no damage' on it's screen.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 79

Ultrasonic armour inspection

A-Ultra is a portable device that uses sensors to check body armour for damage in just 10 seconds, saving time and money and making such inspections simple in even remote locations.

Nick Rogers smiling, standing in front of a Land Rover.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Design & manufacturing
  • Profiles
  • Issue 79

Driven to an electrifying future

From apprentice to Executive Director of Product Engineering at Jaguar Land Rover, Nick Rogers FREng takes a special interest in young engineers. His career has included managing the transition to electric vehicles while simultaneously developing new car models.

An illustration of cellular 5G connecting cell towers to cities, phones laptops, shopping carts and trucks.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • How does that work?
  • Issue 78

Beamforming

The next generation of cellular technology, 5G, is said to have ‘beamforming antennas’. What are these, how will they be used in mass-market cellular systems and why do they help increase both cell range and capacity?

A red Model 3 Tesla driving on a road with a city in the background.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Issue 78

The right climate for efficient semiconductors

Electrical energy is wasted in countless electrical circuits that increase or decrease voltages, and switch between AC and DC. A new generation of devices made from silicon carbide and gallium nitride, semiconductor materials with wider bandgaps, is reducing these losses and decreasing the carbon footprint of many electrical and electronic devices. Richard Stevenson, editor of Compound Semiconductor magazine, explores how these materials have developed.

Quick read

Two hands playing the ROLI instrument, stretched out across the silicon touchpad.
  • Arts & culture
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Innovation Watch
  • Issue 77

A new way to make music

A team of engineers has developed a range of instruments that is changing the way people make music. ROLI combines digital technologies and pressure-sensitive silicone so that users can generate sounds with the lightest touch.