A machine which pumps out power pulses with the same intensity as a lightning bolt has helped strike up another important relationship - the launch of an international research centre by UK and German scientists.
Sheffield Hallam University has established a HIPIMS Research Centre with German research institute Fraunhofer IST to lead the global development of the physical vapour deposition (PVD) process - which is revolutionising high tech industry by improving the quality of a wide range of applications from jet engines, through microelectronics to biomedical implants.
Sheffield Hallam, which pioneered HIPIMS - High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering - in 2001, launched the new research centre at the 1st International Conference on HIPIMS held in the city earlier this month.
The conference was a success in itself, attracting more than 120 of the top scientists and industrialists in the field of HIPIMS.
Dr Arutiun Ehiasarian, director of the HIPIMS Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam, said: "Sheffield Hallam and Fraunhofer are the pioneers in HIPIMS and this new centre will help to implement this process in industry across the world.
"By establishing a common philosophy and working processes, we can explore the full potential of HIPIMS in developing coatings applications for the aerospace and automotive industries, as well as functional coatings and microelectronics research."
The HIPIMS process can help in the manufacture of a range of products from jet engines to knee joints by pumping out an eight mega watt of electrical impulses that create a plasma to improve coatings.
International companies are queuing up to work with the new research centre, which will be based at Sheffield Hallam, to develop better performing coatings for jet turbines, microelectronics, space satellites, photovoltaics, titanium-framed spectacles and tea cups.
Fraunhofer IST, which has expertise in developing tribological, optical, electronic, and sensor coatings, were in Sheffield to launch the research centre on July 6 and 7 this year.
Professor Günter Bräuer, director of Fraunhofer IST said: "Joining up resources from Sheffield Hallam and Fraunhofer IST creates a worldwide unique Competence Centre for innovative sputter processes.”
Professor Mike Smith, pro vice chancellor for research and knowledge transfer at Sheffield Hallam, said: "This new research centre cements a long and successful collaboration between Sheffield Hallam and Fraunhofer to expand our research and understanding of the HIPIMS process.
"This leap forward will help lead to replacement knee and hip joints becoming longer-lasting, and to jet engines performing at a higher temperature and with greater efficiency."
Sheffield Hallam University, UK