2 April 2021
ATLAS laser project gains SMART Expertise Welsh Government support
A £1.8m project backed by the Welsh Government’s SMART Expertise program will help what is said to be the world’s first compound semiconductor cluster to solve real-world industry challenges and bring economic benefits to Wales.
Dr Samuel Shutts, a post-doctoral research fellow in Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded a Smart Expertise Award through the Welsh Government’s Business Wales support service to deliver ATLAS, a key project for the future of the compound semiconductor industry in Wales.
The total project value of £1.8m is based on 50% funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) via the Welsh Government’s SMART Expertise program and 50% from the industry partners (Compound Semiconductor Centre, IQE plc, SPTS Technologies, and Rockley Photonics).
The award offers financial support to innovative collaboration projects that require a range of expertise to solve industry problems, focusing on the commercialization of new products, processes or services and growth in capacity and capability to deliver Welsh economic impact.
“ATLAS is an industry-focused project with an objective to enhance the manufacturing capability of compound semiconductor lasers, putting South Wales at the leading-edge of compound semiconductor laser production,” says Shutts. “The funding aims to allow low-cost, energy-efficient manufacturing in high-volume production.”
Shutts’ research includes photonics; laser physics; and the design, fabrication and testing of novel compound semiconductor lasers for communications, atomic sensors (clocks and magnetometers), sensing, and biomedical applications.
Based within the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Future Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing Hub (CS Hub), Shutts will work closely with companies across South Wales specializing in the application of compound semiconductors for modern telecoms.
“The project is a fantastic opportunity to combine the expertise and problem-solving capacity of researchers within Cardiff University to address the real-world challenges faced by today’s rapidly growing compound semiconductor industry in South Wales,” says Shutts. “It will support South Wales to become the world’s first compound semiconductor cluster, with Cardiff University and the Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS) facility acting as key players.”
Shutts’ work is closely aligned with the CSconnected project, which received £43.74m in UK government funding through UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund to develop a compound semiconductor cluster.
“ATLAS will help develop key processes to be scaled up by cluster partners, enabling next-generation data communications like high-definition streaming and 5G connectivity, and sensing capabilities including the face/gesture recognition capability of digital devices or the electronic systems that assist drivers to park their cars,” says CSconnected director Chris Meadows.