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Institute for Compound Semiconductors

Project description

The ICS Operation is a 5.5 year, £32.67 million operation funded under the ERDF 2014-2020 East Wales Programme. The ERDF funding will contribute to the costs of equipping and resourcing an Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS) at Cardiff University that will provide a link between the research laboratory and the commercial world for one of the world’s key enabling technologies – Compound Semiconductors (CS).

CS are the key technology behind the effective operation of the internet and they have enabled new emerging megatrends such as Smart Phone and tablet usage, satellite communications for GPS, Direct Broadcast TV and many other applications that impact the quality of our daily lives. CS are created by combining elements, generally from periods III and V of the periodic table, to produce materials with physical and chemical properties that have wide-ranging technological applications.

East Wales is fortunate to be home not only to world-leading CS researchers in Cardiff University, but also to a cluster of innovative companies already embracing CS technology.  Although the compound semiconductor industry currently represents only about 10% of the total semiconductor revenues worldwide, compound semiconductors are widely recognized as the fastest growth area. Therefore expanding the commercial activity of East Wales companies in this sector will be an important boost to the future development of the regional, Welsh and UK economies.

The ICS Operation will create an applied and translational research facility with clean rooms that will house both 4” (research scale) and 8” (industrial scale) equipment and associated tooling, operated by highly skilled staff with industrial experience. These facilities will be unique in Europe providing a flexible yet industrially relevant research environment where world-leading researchers and innovative East Wales companies work collaboratively together to better exploit the latest research findings, whilst informing the research agenda for future investigations.

The outcome of these collaborative research projects will be economic impact achieved via Research Development and Innovation (RD&I) that leads to the launch of new and improved CS products and processes. This will generate increased RD&I investment and high quality well-paid employment in the region. It will also encourage the creation of spin-out companies, new start-ups and the relocation of innovative CS companies from elsewhere in the UK and Europe, all adding to increased growth and prosperity in East Wales.

Ultimately the goal is for the East Wales region to be recognised as the fifth cluster for semiconductors in Europe, and the first for Compound Semiconductors.

Delivery model

The ICS Operation will be direct delivered by Cardiff University as the sole beneficiary. The ICS will purchase, set up and make available in a new cleanroom a unique suite of equipment, flexible enough to allow for research development and innovation yet at a specification, and with a staffing profile, that will give it industrial credibility and relevance.  Hence equipment and processes for both small area research and robust large area scale up will be controlled and maintained by the same engineers, thus minimising the cost and re-engineering necessary to get world class research into an exploitable form, adhering to industry manufacturing standards. This investment will foster the development of a cluster of CS companies in the region, enabling them to adopt new technologies and to integrate the latest innovations into their products, processes and services. It will do so via a range of activities including:

  1. Collaborative research and development projects;
  2. Applied research carried out by Cardiff University staff and research students
  3. Facility usage based on contract research or services; equipment rental, cleanroom access or services
  4. Exploitation of intellectual property (IP), knowledge transfer or knowledge exchange from Cardiff scientists and technicians – (e.g. consultancy and advisory work)

Geographical coverage

The project will benefit local authorities across the whole of Wales.

Essential eligibility criteria

The Institute for Compound Semiconductors will construct and equip a new cleanroom facility dedicated to the development of compound semiconductor (CS) devices and components. The ICS will make this unique suite of equipment available to the growing East Wales cluster of CS related companies, at all stages of the supply chain, carrying out collaborative projects with them and enabling them to “bridge the gap” between research and industry, bringing new products to the marketplace.

Ultimately the goal is for the East Wales region to be recognised as the fifth cluster for semiconductors in Europe, and the first for Compound Semiconductors.

Contact details

Name: Chris Matthews
Email: matthewscw@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone: 029 225 10549
Address: Institute for Compound Semiconductors, Cardiff University, Queen’s Buildings, The Parade, Cardiff, CF24 3AA
Website: Website
Twitter: Twitter

Progress

Progress to end June 2017

Operation start date was 01/10/2016. Cleanroom team (Ops Director, Business Development Manager, Cleanroom Manager, Process Engineers, Technicians, Administrators) are in place. Some equipment is being purchased and temporarily housed and operated from a refurbished cleanroom in the University’s School of Physics. Delivery of the operation has commenced from this facility and will continue until the new cleanroom, inside a new Translational Research Facility on the University’s Maindy Park campus, is ready for occupation in 2020. At this point additional new equipment will come on line expanding both the capacity and capability of the processes on offer. The operation ends March 2022.