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20 November 2015

CSC formally launched as first compound semiconductor cluster

Hosted by Stephen Doughty (the Member of Parliament for the Cardiff South and Penarth constituency), an event in the UK Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, has formally launched the Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC), formed at the beginning of August by epiwafer foundry and substrate maker IQE plc of Cardiff, Wales, and Cardiff University (which will jointly own and control the venture). IQE is committing £12m worth of equipment as well as buildings and infrastructure, while Cardiff University has contributed a matching £12m in capital investment to the joint venture. IQE is also licensing certain intellectual property (IP) to the CSC.

Backed by funding from the Welsh Government, the partnership aims to build a center of excellence to lead the development and commercialization of compound semiconductor technologies in Europe. Four significant clusters based around silicon technologies already exist in Europe, but CSC – as a fifth semiconductor cluster in Europe, based in Cardiff – will be the first to build on the potential specifically of compound semiconductors.

Due to their high-performance capabilities coupled with energy efficiency and photonic properties, compound semiconductors have been identified as a Key Enabling Technology (KET) for the European Commission's 'Horizon 2020' economic growth strategy, which targets the re-industrialization of the European Union (EU). The planned compound semiconductor cluster is intended to represent a central base of operations for efforts in the UK (and wider EU regions) to reclaim high-value technology manufacturing from competitors in East Asia, and is reckoned to have the potential to create up to 5000 jobs within the region over the next five years.

The CSC will see IQE working closely with Cardiff University's new £40m Institute of Compound Semiconductors (ICS), whose research aims to develop innovative new materials technologies enabling a wide range of new and emerging applications. The ICS forms part of Cardiff University's £300m investment in new research and innovation centers, and its potential is already recognized by the Welsh and UK governments, which have invested more than £29m towards its creation. 

Professor Diana Huffaker, the Ser Cymru Chair in Advanced Engineering and Materials, has been appointed from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in the USA to become director of Cardiff University's ICS (starting in January). "The Compound Semiconductor Centre is a unique facility," comments Huffaker. "It brings together Cardiff University research in parallel with industrial-scale production from IQE and future industrial partners." Collectively, the ICS, the CSC and IQE's existing operation in Cardiff establishes the core elements of a compound semiconductor ecosystem in Wales to provide a complete capability value chain from early-stage research & development through product and process innovation prototyping, and pilot production, through to high-value, large-scale manufacturing. "In effect, the partnership builds a bridge from basic research to commercial technology transfer," Huffaker adds.

"Much of the compound semiconductor technology used in devices across the world is developed and manufactured in Wales," noted IQE's chief executive Dr Drew Nelson. "But technology evolves at a rapid pace. One of the big problems in the UK is that we frequently fail to take the steps needed to commercialize research and development activities through innovation and manufacturing [the 'valley of death']," he adds. "This is why we are looking to create the world's first compound semiconductor cluster, and having Cardiff University and the UK academic infrastructure in place creates a very strong basis to enable this cluster to be formed." 

The CSC will hence provide an essential pillar to span the entire Technology Readiness Leavel (TRL) scale, from TRL1-3 (R&D at ICS), through TRL4-6 (Industrial Innovation, at CSC) to TRL 7-9 (Pilot Production, at IQE).

The CSC will also "foster education at all levels and help create jobs within Cardiff and Wales," comments Huffaker. "The venture allows IQE to try experimental ideas which they really think will be important, while Cardiff benefits from IQE's business direction," she adds. "CSC and ICS will be open for business for any interested industrial and academic users."

See related items:

CST's commercial director Wyn Meredith appointed director of IQE/Cardiff joint venture Compound Semiconductor Centre

IQE and Cardiff University establish JV to develop and commercialize compound semiconductor technologies in Europe

Cardiff University recruits UCLA's Huffaker to lead new research lab

Tags: IQE

Visit: http://compoundsemiconductorcentre.com

Visit: www.cardiff.ac.uk/innovation/campus-investment/translational-research-facility/

Visit: www.iqep.com

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