Economy Secretary Ken Skates has welcomed Cardiff University's new refurbished £4m Institute for Compound Semiconductors Clean Room. Guests were able to learn more about the refurbished 225 square meter Clean Room and the role it plays in assisting businesses across South Wales as part of CS Connected - the world's first Compound Semiconductor cluster.
The ICS Clean Room, situated in the University's Queen's Building, has undergone a £600,000 refit to improve room conditioning in preparation for new equipment.
And in addition to the clean room upgrade, ICS has invested in new equipment to bring a small area to 6-inch 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.
Economy Secretary, Ken Skates said: "The ICS Clean Room is an outstanding example of a leading edge facility being developed with Welsh Government support. The project helps to bridge the gap between research and commercial solutions, taking ideas from the lab bench into our boardrooms and on to the shop floors of companies across Wales, so that the economic benefits are felt in communities across Wales. It is encouraging exactly the kind of cutting edge innovation and technology that Wales needs in order to compete globally and thrive."
Professor Peter Smowton, Director of the Institute of Compound Semiconductors said: "The Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS) provides cutting-edge facilities that help researchers and industry work together to translate the science into a commercial production environment and the clean room is a critical part of that. Many advances in our daily lives depend upon compound semiconductor (CS) technology. The EPSRC funding allows ICS and its partner companies to continue to develop technology that enables emerging trends, such as self-drive vehicles and 5G communications."
ICS turns its laboratory research into products and services by working with commercial partners to lead in developing one of the world's key enabling technologies and along with the Compound Semiconductor Centre - a joint business venture with Cardiff-based IQE which forms part of CS Connected.
Clean room manager, Dr Angela Sobiesierski said: "The upgrade and new equipment has transformed the ICS cleanroom into a robust, fit for purpose facility that is well placed to meet the requirements of Academic driven research projects and also meet the demands of our commercial customers and project partners."
To meet current demand, the existing 225 square meter cleanroom in Cardiff University's Queen's Buildings has been upgraded. During 2017, the Queen’s Buildings cleanroom has undergone a £600,000 refurbishment to improve room conditioning and provide necessary services required for the installation of new equipment. The program has included upgrading:
- temperature and humidity control
- compressed dry air supply
- liquid nitrogen supply
- process gas extract and scrubbing
- ozone extract
- electrical power supplies.
In addition to the cleanroom upgrade, the Institute of Compound Semiconductors (ICS) has, with support from both the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Welsh Government via European Regional Development Funds, invested in new equipment to bring a small area to 6-inch fabrication capability online.
Equipment purchased in 2017/18 includes:
- Lesker PRO Line™ PVD 200™ THIN FILM DEPOSITION SYSTEM
- Lesker PRO Line™ PVD 200™ THIN FILM DEPOSITION SYSTEM with UHV loadlock
- Buhler Boxer Dielecric Evaporator
- AET Wet Oxidation (AlOx) Furnace
- Oxford Instruments PlasmaPro 100 Cobra 300 Plasma Etch Tool
- Jipelec JetFirst 300 RTP Processor
- Plasma Etch Inc. PE-100 Plasma Asher
- SÜSS MicroTec MA6 Mask Aligner
- Bruker DektakXT Advanced System (DXT-A)
- Beneq TFS 200 Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) System.
New facility in development
A new state-of-the-art facility is in development as part of Cardiff University’s £300 million Innovation Campus. Currently under construction is a state-of-the-art 8-inch fabrication line that will be housed in the new Translational Research Facility (TRF).
This is part of Cardiff University's new £300 million Innovation Campus, set to combine cutting-edge research, technology transfer, business development and student enterprise.
The Institute has received over £80 million investment for its new building and equipment including over £30 million of external investment. In addition to the 1500 square meter cleanroom, dedicated characterization room and back end processing areas will enable processing wafers up to 8-inches in diameter and will support an expanded range of industry-standard services.
New office accommodation will sit alongside shared, interactive working zones as well as laboratory and breakout spaces. This will enable further collaboration between researchers and industry professionals, creating a working environment that will attract and retain the most talented individuals.
The Institute will share Innovation Campus with Cardiff Catalysis Institute, Social Science Research Park SPARK, and the Innovation Centre, a creative base for start-ups. The Institute will have access to shared facilities with its neighbors, including a TEDx auditorium and fabrication lab to trial new manufacturing technologies. The facility will be open for business in 2020.