The world’s first compound semiconductor cluster
CSconnected represents organisations who are directly associated with research, development, innovation and manufacturing of compound semiconductor related technologies as well as organisations along the supply chains whose products and services are enabled by compound semiconductors.
The UK, and in particular, Wales, is home to a growing number of organisations and businesses that are active in this increasingly important industry sector.
In 2015, Cardiff University announced an investment of around £75M in the Institute for Compound Semiconductors as part of its new £300M Innovation Campus. The announcement for the Institute was quickly followed by the creation of a £24M joint venture between IQE plc and Cardiff University to form the Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC) for the development and prototyping of compound semiconductor materials.
Hot on the heels of the launch of the CSC, came the announcement that the UK Government was to invest £50M in the first Catapult Centre in Wales that would be dedicated to the development of compound semiconductor applications.
In 2016, EPSRC announced a £10M investment in a Compound Semiconductor Hub to be based at Cardiff University.
In 2017, the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) Regional Cabinet supported the cluster with a £37.9 investment towards the establishment of a state of the art foundry, as an anchor in the region for high-end production of compound semiconductors.
Given such a prominent regional presence of compound semiconductor activity, it was perhaps inevitable that the key cluster partners would come together to prepare a compelling application under the UK Government’s Strength in Places programme designed to bolster investment in research, development and innovation by building on key regional strengths.
The successful £43m CSconnected bid to formalise cluster activities was announced on 26th June 2020. The project centres on four key collaborative research and development (CRD) programmes, namely: next generation optical communications and sensing; large Scale GaAs-based wafer manufacturing; novel and efficient CS Wafer Fabrication Tools; and Advanced processes for 5G and EAV systems.
In addition to the four CRD programmes, activities also include the formation of a central coordination activity to represent and promote the cluster and to develop regional educational and skills capabilities for the sector. The project will also encompass the setting up of a dedicated ‘home’ for the CSconnected cluster that will include meeting & conference facilities, an outreach hub and a visitor centre.
Compound semiconductors are at the heart of many devices we use today, and are set to play an increasingly important role in next generation technologies.