UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering


UCL researcher awarded UKRI-EPSRC Fellowship for next generation air quality monitoring research

1 September 2022

Researcher in UCL's Electronic and Electrical Engineering's Photonics Group, Dr Lalitha Ponnampalam, has been awarded a prestigious EPSRC Open Fellowship for her work leveraging photonic integration technology to develop next generation air pollution sensors.

Lalitha Ponnampalam in the lab

Dr. Lalitha Ponnampalam, a researcher in the EEE Photonics Group, has been awarded an Open Fellowship from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Her project aims to advance the field of atmospheric sensing by developing compact, cost-effective and high precision sensors for integration into high density sensor networks. These sensors aim to monitor atmospheric constituents in real-time, providing not only high spatial resolution but also exceptional precision.

Existing sensor technologies face challenges, being either large, complex, and expensive or lacking in accuracy. This fellowship is committed to overcoming these challenges by leveraging photonic integration technology. This cutting-edge approach allows for the fabrication of hundreds of photonic components on a single chip, marking a step-change in technology. The outcome will be compact sensors capable of precisely monitoring a diverse array of air pollutants with both high spatial and temporal resolution.

Beyond terrestrial applications, the proposed sensors have the potential to be deployed in balloon and satellite missions. This would enable in-situ probing of the constituents of the upper atmosphere, contributing to the study of complex atmospheric processes and enhancing our understanding of their impact on climate change.