The UK’s Universities and Science Minister, Chris Skidmore MP, saw the latest in Compound Semiconductor (CS) wafer innovation on a recent tour of Cardiff University’s Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS).
The Institute offers a range of CS solutions for companies working to develop 21st century technologies.
The Minister was able to view the ICS’s recently refurbished Clean Room and witness the role it plays in assisting businesses across South Wales as part of CS Connected – the world’s first Compound Semiconductor cluster.
The Clean Room, which has undergone a £600,000 upgrade, now boasts new equipment to bring 6-inch wafer fabrication capability online, with support from both the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Welsh Government via European Regional Development Funds totalling £3.3m.
ICS will see further improvements, including state-of-art laboratory space and an increased 8-inch fabrication capability, when it moves into the new Translational Research Facility on Maindy Road – part of Cardiff Innovation Campus.
Chris Skidmore MP said: “Compound semiconductors underpin the whole world of interconnectivity, including everything from smartphones to ‘connected living’, using technology to make all our lives easier and smarter in the future.
Experts at Cardiff University are at the leading edge of this huge new industry which is worth almost $34 billion (£26.2bn) worldwide. This sector is vital for the future development of our industry and through our modern Industrial Strategy we are investing in research to uphold the UK’s reputation as great place for science and innovation."
Professor Peter Smowton, Director of the Institute of Compound Semiconductors said: “The tour allowed us to showcase the Clean Room and show the Minister the cutting-edge facilities that help our researchers and industry work together to translate academic expertise into a commercial production environment. Many advances in our daily lives depend upon compound semiconductor (CS) technology. EPSRC funding allows Cardiff University and its partner companies to continue to develop technology that enables emerging trends, such as self-drive vehicles and 5G communications.”
The UK Ministerial visit happened as Wales Economy Minister, Ken Skates, welcomed the European Commission’s approval of an innovative plan, spearheaded by Wales, that identifies compound semiconductors as an important sector.
The plan will unlock €1.75bn (£1.54bn) of funding for research activities, will bring in up to €6bn (£5.29bn) in private investment and will ultimately help bring new technology innovations to market.
The UK will receive up to €48 million (£42.3m) under the scheme. Participants in Wales include Cardiff University partner IQE, Newport Wafer Fab and SPTS Technologies – all based along the M4 corridor in South Wales – plus Manchester-based ICS Ltd.
Economy Minister, Ken Skates said: “Wales’ semiconductor cluster and its contribution to many of the technologies that are so prevalent in our modern everyday lives is a real source of pride, and I am delighted Wales has taken the lead on behalf of the UK in co-ordinating this project that will drive vital research and accelerate innovation work across Europe.”