Swansea University, a Welsh public research institution, recently began construction of its state-of-the-art electronic components development complex. Once complete, the Centre for Integrative Semiconductor Materials (CISM) will provide research, manufacturing, and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) incubation services.
As electronic components development becomes more competitive worldwide, the CISM will be an alternate path toward future semiconductor technology development.
Details on the CISM
In mid-2019, Research England issued Swansea University a £30 million ($38.6 million) grant through the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund. The institution is using that capital investment to establish the CISM at its Bay Campus. The massive three-story, 4,430 m² complex will soon house multiple advanced research labs, International Organization for Standards (ISO)-qualified clean rooms, and SME incubation areas.
The facility will also give attendees access to cutting-edge back end of line tools (BEOL) and various analysis and characterization equipment. The new institute will feature ultramodern raw materials and device-level theory and simulation resources.
In addition, the complex will host a dedicated faculty to train its students in the latest electronic component manufacturing processes.
Swansea University also partnered with several local semiconductor companies to ensure CISM participants receive a robust and multidisciplinary education. Once the center opens, students will have support from local electronic components providers IQE, SPTS Technologies, and Newport Wafer Fab.
Swansea University plans to open the CISM in 2022.
The Changing Face of the Global Semiconductor Industry
This year, China, India, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States have unveiled initiatives to bolster their domestic semiconductor industries. Recent events like the Sino-American trade war and the coronavirus pandemic have convinced leaders their countries need localized electronic components supply chains.
As a world power, the United Kingdom is also taking part in the national semiconductor independence trend.
Swansea University’s CISM offers a template other regions should consider adopting in the future. Instead of only providing resources for seasoned engineers, the institute exists to give the uninitiated access to world-class training, support, and facilities. Its alumni will leave the school with an understanding of traditional industry methodologies and ideas on how to improve them.
Ideally, other nations will follow Britain’s example when disseminating funding for semiconductor research and development. Corporate environments, while good at directing groups to execute complex tasks, do not always give people enough room to think.
For that reason, universities have been the breeding ground for hugely innovative technology companies like Google and Facebook. The future of the electronic component industry, whatever form it takes, will be built in places like the CISM.