Our University, along with the Universities of Bristol, Sheffield and Strathclyde and industrial partners, have been given funding to develop the UK into a future hub for the manufacture of advanced semiconductor materials it was announced today.

The Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant of £2.65 million will fund equipment and researchers to develop advanced manufacturing techniques for nano-engineered semiconductors, particularly the III-nitrides.

The III-nitrides include semiconductors such as Gallium Nitride (GaN) which underpin the emerging global solid state lighting and power electronics industries. The impact of these materials was recently recognised by the award of the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics to Akasaki, Amano and Nakamura, pioneers in the field.

Creating three-dimensional structures at the nanoscale provides a route to improving the quality of these materials and in turn the performance of these devices. Ultimately this will increase the energy efficiency in these and other emerging applications, such as water purification, where ultra-violet LEDs are used to prevent viruses reproducing.

The funding will also enable the design and scale-up of a new generation of sensors based on nanophotonics, exploiting the unique optical and piezoelectric properties of the III-nitride materials.

“This grant will enable us to develop the nanostructuring processes on a manufacturing scale along with reproducible device designs and measurement techniques to unlock the potential of these properties in a range of materials and innovative nano-devices,” commented Dr Philip Shields, project lead from our Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering.

Professor Gary Hawley, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & Design, added: “We are very excited to be pushing the forefront of these advanced materials and working with our university and industry partners. We hope to propel the UK forward to become much more competitive in the manufacture of advanced semiconductor materials.”

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