20 July 2023
CSA Catapult Scotland to offer improved design and optimization capabilities in power electronics and packaging for high-power industries
As part of its plans to support industry across the UK, Compound Semiconductor Applications (CSA) Catapult is to have a presence in Scotland for the first time.
Established in 2017 by UK Government agency Innovate UK (which provides funding and support for business innovation as part of UK Research and Innovation), CSA Catapult is a not-for-profit organization focused on accelerating the adoption of compound semiconductors in three key areas (the road to Net Zero, future telecoms and intelligent sensing). Headquartered in Newport, South Wales, it works across the UK in a range of industry sectors, from automotive to medical, and from digital communications to aerospace.
Working in partnership with the University of Strathclyde and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), the new office in Scotland will expand CSA Catapult’s expertise in power electronics and packaging work from the automotive and industrial segments to high-power industries such as energy, aerospace, marine and rail.
Together with partners, CSA Catapult Scotland aims to offer an improved design optimization and manufacturing process for power electronics and packaging, with a specific focus on high-power industries such as transport and energy. Specifically, the work undertaken at the CSA Catapult Scotland office will focus on power module design and manufacturing scale-up processes, enabling seamless transitions from research to design to development and reducing the time for products and innovations to reach market.
Due to open this Summer, the CSA Catapult Scotland office will be based at the University of Strathclyde’s Technology Innovation Centre in Glasgow, providing a link between the work undertaken at CSA Catapult’s Innovation Centre in Newport and the Catapult’s network of partners in Scotland.
The University of Strathclyde and NMIS are established in the high-power electronics industry and have relationships with some of the leading names in the industry, which should help to drive CSA Catapult’s mission of supporting clusters of excellence within the industry and building supply chains.
CSA Catapult Scotland has two focus areas, concentrating on a manufacturing readiness level (MRL) and a technology readiness level (TRL). It will help customers to scale up their prototypes to a level where they can be manufactured at scale, while the TRL work will be focused on optimizing power electronics for high-power applications in the energy and transport markets.
Staff at CSA Catapult Scotland will initially work on the virtual design of power packaging modules and assembly, while at the same time building up relationships with customers and companies across the cluster in Scotland.
Helping to control and transform electrical power through switching devices in a wide range of industries such as aerospace, automotive, energy, healthcare and space, the global power electronics market was $52.7bn in 2022 and is projected to grow from $61.94bn in 2023 to $153.3bn by 2030. The energy industry is expected to capture a sizeable share of this growth due to the rising acceptance of power electronics devices in renewable energy systems. Wide-bandgap compound semiconductors such as gallium nitride and silicon carbide will be more frequently used in power electronics due to their higher switching speeds, lower current loss and higher power density, as well as enabling the fabrication of more compact devices.
CSA Catapult’s existing power electronics expertise is said to be one of the UK’s most advanced and comprehensive modelling, characterization, integration and validation facilities for power electronics innovation. This is coupled with an advanced packaging lab with cutting-edge equipment and techniques in assembling customers’ prototypes, which can be used to verify a design anywhere from the proof-of-concept stage up to a final production unit.
“Expanding our capabilities to Scotland will allow us to engage more closely with an extremely strong cluster of companies and research institutes at the forefront of compound semiconductor technologies,” says CSA Catapult’s CEO Martin McHugh. “Furthermore, our activities in Scotland will support our ambitions to expand into both lower and higher TRL and MRL activities to reduce the risks of successful translational research and reduce the time for products and innovations to reach market,” he adds. “We are extremely delighted to be working with the University of Strathclyde and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, who are already well established across the region, on expanding our capabilities, building new supply chains and helping the UK economy grow.”
“We are delighted to welcome the CSA Catapult to our campus in the heart of Glasgow City Innovation District. By co-locating with Strathclyde and NMIS, the CSA Catapult will be well placed to access our sector-leading power electronics and electrical systems research, advanced manufacturing innovation capabilities and facilities and our strong relationships with industry partners,” says professor Sir Jim McDonald, principal & vice-chancellor of the University of Strathclyde and chair of the NMIS board. “By establishing these collaborative links, we can accelerate the deployment of process and product innovation in the energy and transportation sectors.”