Sussex research showcased in top UK report

Professor Robert Prance (standing, centre) with Plessey MD Michael LeGoff (seated left) and University of Sussex Vice-Chancellor Michael Farthing (seated right) and the University of Sussex/Plessey EPS development team

Groundbreaking research at the University of Sussex on electrical sensors is featured in a major new report on the most important research projects taking place in universities today.

The Big Ideas for the Future report (published today, Thursday 16 June 2011), backed by well-known academics such as Professor Lord Robert Winston and Dr Alice Roberts, pulls together the leading research projects in science, social sciences, engineering and the arts currently taking place across UK universities.

Published by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Universities UK (UUK) as part of Universities Week (13-19 June 2011), the report's aim is to raise awareness of the vital contribution university research makes to the wealth, health and wellbeing of Britain and beyond.

The University of Sussex project selected for the report was the development of Electric Potential Sensor (EPS) technology, which is a novel technology capable of monitoring electric field. The generic EPS technology forms the basis of many important innovations, from medical diagnosis and imaging to monitoring earthquakes.  

The report entry focuses on one application of EPS technology - the ability to track human movement - that makes it a valuable tool in performance sports, training and computer gaming.

The EPS was developed and patented at the University by Professor Robert Prance and his team in the Centre for Physical Electronics and Quantum Technology.

The technology detects electrical activity without physical contact - the human heart can be monitored using an EPS system without the need for attaching wires to the body, for example. EPS monitors can detect electrical signals through clothing, and even walls. The sensor can be used singly or in an array format  and can be adapted for any scale, from microchip to larger products, such as monitors used to detect faults in aircraft wings. 

Professor Prance says: "We are delighted that this technology is now receiving international recognition, both as an example of a highly successful fundamental research project and as a commercial development programme. It is the product of excellent teamwork at Sussex and our partnership with Plessey Semiconductors."

The basic technology has already been developed commercially as the EPIC sensor in partnership with Plymouth-based electronic specialists Plessey Semiconductors, who won a Gold Award for the EPIC sensor at the "Best of Sensors Expo" awards held at the Sensors Expo in the USA last week.

The entries were judged on the basis of potential impact, application, distinctiveness, timeliness and availability.  Melanie Martella, Executive Editor of Sensors Magazine, who presented the awards, said: "The nominations demonstrated exceptional innovation, integration and ease of use."

Michael LeGoff, Plessey Semiconductors' MD, said, "We are delighted that EPIC technology is being recognised as a truly innovative technology that can be used to create genuinely novel and ingenious products."

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: "The research that has taken place at UK universities has helped to change the world and the way we live. I would like to congratulate the University of Sussex on their inclusion in the Big Ideas for the Future report, and wish them the best of luck with their research."

Professor Rick Rylance, Chair Elect of RCUK said of Big Ideas for the Future: "Research has an impact on all our lives. Big Ideas for the Future showcases just some of the excellent research being carried out in UK universities that achieves these aims. It is vital we continue to support the talented individuals whose work makes a real difference."

Notes for Editors


To download a full version of the report, please visit

For further details about Universities Week events and the report, contact: Elizabeth Porter  Tel: 020 7010 0851   

Universities Week is taking place from 13-19 June 2010, and aims to increase public awareness of the wide and varied role of the UK's universities.  A full list of events taking place can be found at Supporters can also find out more about the campaign by joining the Universities Week Facebook fan page at  The campaign is being co-ordinated by Universities UK.

As part of Universities Week, University of Sussex Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Farthing will be taking part in an online discussion with other Vice-Chancellors, hosted by Guardian online, on Friday 17 June between 1pm and 2.30pm. Subjects for discussion include Universities Week, and Higher Education issues.

See: for details

Universities UK is the representative organisation for the UK's universities. Founded in 1918, its mission is to be the definitive voice for all universities in the UK, providing high quality leadership and support to its members to promote a successful and diverse higher education sector. With 133 members and offices in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh, it promotes the strength and success of UK universities nationally and internationally. Visit:

Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils. We invest annually around £3 billion in research. Our focus is on excellence with impact. We nurture the highest quality research, as judged by international peer review providing the UK with a competitive advantage. Global research requires we sustain a diversity of funding approaches, fostering international collaborations, and providing access to the best facilities and infrastructure, and locating skilled researchers in stimulating environments. Our research achieves impact - the demonstrable contribution to society and the economy made by knowledge and skilled people. To deliver impact, researchers and businesses need to engage and collaborate with the public, business, government and charitable organisations.

The seven UK Research Councils are:

  • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
  • Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
  • Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

Video demos of the EPIC sensor can be seen at

Plessey Semiconductors media contact:

Derek Rye, Marketing Director, Plessey Semiconductors Ltd

Tel: +44 (0)1793 518026. Email:

Or for enquiries in the USA please call: +1 (858) 324 1086

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune and Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:

View press releases online at:

Last updated: Thursday, 16 June 2011