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The Chancellor formally opening 3WN
The Chancellor formally opening 3WN
Professor Knight giving a presentation
Professor Knight giving a presentation
3 West North
3 West North
Photos by Nic Delves-Broughton

Internal News - 28 October 2005

3 West North building is formally opened

The 3 West North building, which houses the most advanced research facilities in the country in the important area of photonic crystal fibres, has been formally opened.

The Chancellor, Lord Tugendhat, yesterday (Thursday 27 October) opened the building, which cost £2.87 million and almost a year to finish.

3WN includes drawing towers for making photonic crystal fibres, a 200-seater lecture theatre and two general teaching classrooms for 100 and 30 people.

The building was designed by Bath architects Stubbs Rich and was funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. It provides a total of 890 square metres of new working space together with 150 square metres of refurbished space for the University.

The Photonics & Photonic Materials Group, part of the Department of Physics, moved to the new building from the 4 West building, which was demolished as it had come to the end of its natural life.

The new building has a drawing tower used to construct kilometres of photonic crystal fibres each year, as well as various labs with equipment including lasers, lathes and furnaces worth hundreds of thousands of pounds that will allow vital research to be carried out.

Photonic crystal fibres are typically the width of a human hair and can be a kilometre in length. Yet running the whole length of this thin tube is a series of holes which give them the remarkable property of being able to imprison light and put it to use.

The photonics group has led the way in developing photonic crystal fibres, pioneered by Professor Philip Russell in 1991 and is now a major new area within physics. These optical fibres are able to harness the power of light in many new ways, enhancing existing applications and leading to many new ones.

The new building also has a hearing loop for students with hearing difficulties and has been designed for disabled access, with a lift to first floor. There is disabled parking close to the building.

In a speech the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Glynis Breakwell, said: “Continuing the improvement of our infrastructure is of vital importance to our future success as a University. Quite rightly our students want the best environment in which to develop and our researchers demand the best conditions for their work.

“3 West North provides state-of-the-art facilities for both research and teaching and is equipped with the most advanced technology particularly providing support for students with physical or sensory disadvantages.”

The formal opening was attended by members of Council and other invited guests. The Head of the Department of Physics, Professor David Bird, also gave a speech at the opening, and the Director of the Photonics and Photonic Materials Group, Professor Jonathan Knight, gave a presentation on his team’s work.