I rarely attend small semiconductor conferences in other countries, but did so recently as part of a tour of Wales, U.K., set up for me and a few other journalists by International Business Wales. The conference, held at City Hall in Cardiff, Wales, was celebrating its 10th anniversary. City Hall is impressive. Both the Assembly Room, where they held the exhibits, and the Council Chamber, where they held the technical sessions, are magnificent rooms. Take a look.
At any trade show or conference, I try to stick to the electronics that Electronic Design readers would find most interesting. This conference focuses on semiconductor equipment and manufacturing rather than design, so I had to broaden my horizons. In the exhibit hall, I found a couple of interesting organizations: Oxford Instruments and the Scottish Microelectronics Centre.
At the Oxford Instruments booth, I spoke with Andy Matthews, managing director, and Frazer Anderson, business director. Oxford Instruments sells equipment that can be used for research and development. We spoke mostly about equipment for high-brightness LEDs, power semiconductors for electric vehicles, and photovoltaics. For example, the company’s Plasma Technology business group is playing an increasingly important role in the manufacture of HBLEDs. Their equipment is used by a number of leading HBLED manufacturers, including OSRAM .
At the Scottish Microelectronics Centre (SMC) booth, I spoke with chief executive, Iain Hyslop. SMC is a joint venture between The University of Edinburgh and Scottish Enterprise for incubation, research and development in the semiconductor sector. Started in 2000, SMC is at the leading edge of Scotland's semiconductor and MEMS activity. The centre has in-house analytical imaging and repair facilities for failure analysis, process monitoring and IC repair. Its research foundry provides services for the microfabrication and MEMS industries, including post processing on commodity CMOS. Its assembly capabilities offer low-volume, rapid turn-around packaging solutions with wafer dicing and wire bonding.
The technical sessions ran all day and included sessions on advanced packaging, graphene electronics, nano electronics, CMOS optoelectronics and solar cell technology. For a complete listing of the program, speakers and companies, check out http://www.semiconductor2k.com/Conferenceprogram.htm.
I found the talk by Peter Blake, managing director of Graphene Industries to be the most interesting session of the day. According to its web site, the company is the world's first supplier of atomically thin, crystallographically perfect films of graphitic carbon, known as graphenes. In his presentation, Blake gave the audience a technical overview of properties and applications of graphene electronics. One of the applications he spoke about was transistors. According to Blake, graphene-based transistors can run at higher frequencies and more efficiently than silicon transistors, though his company is not able to produce ICs from these transistors yet.
As for the rest of the tour, you can read more about it and about the electronics companies we visited in my editorial: Talking Electronics For A Few Days In Sunny Wales.