AES Semigas


28 March 2024

UK funding of £14m for open-access power semiconductor test & packaging equipment

The UK Government has announced a £16.6m investment to give semiconductor researchers and businesses access to new equipment helping them to test and make chips for use in high-energy machines such as electric vehicles and manufacturing equipment. Of the funding, £14m is targeted particularly at semiconductors used in power electronics.

The new tools, based predominantly in Newcastle and Strathclyde, will help researchers and businesses of all sizes to test applications of new innovations in power electronics and to improve their semiconductor packaging processes.

Made through Innovate UK (which provides funding and support for business innovation as part of UK Research and Innovation), the investment comes as part of the UK’s Semiconductor Strategy, which identified new ways of packaging and testing chips as a key area to drive performance improvements in semiconductors.

Innovations in advanced packaging can help to reduce the power needed to run semiconductors by improving their performance in demanding applications – such as data centers and gaming – while also making sure that chips can cool down more effectively in hot environments, such as manufacturing.

“New innovations in the way we package up semiconductors have the potential to transform whole industries and vastly improve consumer devices, all while driving long-term economic growth,” says the UK Government’s Technology Minister Saqib Bhatti. “This investment in open-access technology will make sure British researchers have the tools they need to rapidly turn semiconductor science into business reality, all while making hugely energy-intensive sectors more sustainable,” he adds. “The open-access tools will cover a range of processes involved with designing and testing these semiconductors, including slicing silicon wafers into smaller chips and bonding complex materials together to make chips. Funding will also be used to help manufacturers improve the technology used to automate assembly processes, as well as helping build and test drives, which are pivotal in the conversion of energy into motion in electric vehicles, manufacturing equipment and more.”

“Innovate UK’s investment into supply chains for Power Electronics, Machines and Drives (PEMD) shows the importance of these technologies to the UK economy and the global race to net-zero,” says Mike Biddle, executive director Net Zero at Innovate UK. “It is exciting to see the breadth of activity in semiconductor packaging as well as electric machine validation and manufacturing,” he adds. “The majority of this investment is strategically aligned with the National Semiconductor Strategy and helps grow the high-value post-wafer capabilities within the UK.”

The funding will build on an existing network of machinery open to researchers and businesses across the UK through Driving the Electric Revolution Industrial Centres (DER-IC), originally backed by £33m of funding in 2019. DER-IC has previously partnered with the likes of McLaren Applied to test and develop new ways of manufacturing an electric drive train for use by companies producing automotives and aeroplanes to bring innovative and more efficient electric products to market faster.

“This funding will allow us to help industry invest further in the technologies of Power Electronics, Machines and Drives manufacture,” notes professor Matt Boyle OBE, executive chair of DER-IC. “Industry has already invested heavily in these electrification manufacturing technologies since the start of the challenge. This additional equipment is being deployed to areas, capability and sectors where industry has stated that it will grow the UK supply chains for PEMD,” he adds.

“This new funding will help us further improve our offering to the PEMD industry and develop innovative new technologies to drive us towards net-zero,” comments Paul Jarvie, centre lead for the DER-IC for the South West and Wales and business development manager at CSA Catapult. “The new funding will help enable and de-risk the scale-up challenge for UK packaging companies and allow semiconductors to reach their full potential in applications ranging from electric vehicles and renewable energy to manufacturing and data centers.”

See related items:

UK unveils National Semiconductor Strategy, with £1bn government funding

Siemens establishes power electronics innovation hub in UK with CSA Catapult

Tags: Power electronics




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