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£10m Award Creates New Compound Semiconductor Hub

Tuesday 5th December 2016

Stock image of electronics.

“Many advances in our daily lives depend upon CS technology. The new Hub will allow Cardiff and its partner Universities and companies to continue to develop technology that enables emerging trends, such as self-drive vehicles and 5G communications.” said Professor Peter Smowton

A £10m award announced today puts the School of Physics and Astronomy and Cardiff University at the forefront of research into cutting-edge Compound Semiconductor (CS) technologies.

The funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) will bring academics from across the UK and industry together in hub of Compound Semiconductor (CS) expertise.

The EPSRC Manufacturing Hub in Future Compound Semiconductors will work closely with the Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC) – a partnership between Cardiff and global advanced semiconductor wafer manufacturer IQE.

Cardiff University will lead the Hub with three key academic partners: UCL (University College London), the University of Manchester and the University of Sheffield.

The Director of the new Hub, Professor Peter Smowton from the School of Physics and Astronomy, said “The Hub will provide Europe-leading facilities that will translate research into large-scale CS growth and device fabrication. Many advances in our daily lives depend upon CS technology. The new Hub will allow Cardiff and its partner Universities and companies to continue to develop technology that enables emerging trends, such as self-drive vehicles and 5G communications.”

Julie James, Minister for Skills and Science

Julie James, Welsh Government Minister for Skills and Science

Julie James, Welsh Government Minister for Skills and Science, said: “The Welsh Government has innovation at the heart of its Strategy. We are committed to making strategic interventions to support industrial sectors where Wales already has internationally recognised academic and industrial expertise; where we have businesses capable of exploiting this knowledge and where there is a significant global market potential. The Hub will shine a global spotlight on Wales and is an exemplar of how the Welsh Government's Smart approach to innovation will benefit the people and businesses of Wales."

A further 26 initial companies and organisations allied to the Hub will help Cardiff and Wales capitalise on the £50m CS Applications Catapult announced by Innovate UK in January.

Silicon once supported the information society, but the technology is reaching fundamental limits in the 21st Century. Applying CS knowhow to silicon manufacturing techniques will form the central focus for the new venture.

Drew Nelson, CEO of Cardiff headquartered IQE, said: “IQE produced CS materials for 10 billion wireless chips last year, underpinning the worldwide mobile communications industry. The Hub will allow us to exploit the highly advantageous electronic, magnetic, optical and power handling properties of Compound Semiconductors while utilising the cost and scaling advantage of silicon technology where it fits best.”

Another Hub project partner, the US-based optical components manufacturer Oclaro, had 50% quarter on quarter growth in 100 Gbit transceiver products, developed and manufactured in the UK, supporting internet communication.

The Hub’s goal is to grow long-term future partnerships with UK and international companies and academics.

Peter Smowton added: “We are open to interactions with new partner companies and universities, and we can provide opportunities through feasibility project funding calls to kick-start future partnerships with the power to change the way we live.”