Clean Room Facility Brings 8-Inch Fabrication Capability to Cardiff University


Economy Secretary welcomes £4m ICS Clean Room

Economy Secretary Ken Skates has welcomed Cardiff University’s new refurbished £4m Institute for Compound Semiconductors Clean Room.

Local business leaders across South Wales attended the launch of the new clean room facility, which offers a range of solutions for companies working to develop 21st century technologies. Guests were able to learn more about the refurbished 225 square metre Clean Room facility and the role it plays in assisting businesses across South Wales as part of CS Connected – the world’s first Compound Semiconductor cluster.

The ICS Clean Room, situated in the University’s Queen’s Building, has undergone a £600,000 refit to improve room conditioning in preparation for new equipment.

And in addition to the clean room upgrade, ICS has invested in new equipment to bring a small area to 6-inch fabrication capability online, with support from both the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Welsh Government via European Regional Development Funds totalling £3.3m.

ICS will see further improvements, including state-of-the-art laboratory space and an increased 8-inch fabrication capability, when it moves into the new Translational Research Facility on Maindy Road – part of Cardiff Innovation Campus.

Economy Secretary, Ken Skates said: “The ICS Clean Room is an outstanding example of a leading edge facility being developed with Welsh Government support. The project helps to bridge the gap between research and commercial solutions, taking ideas from the lab bench into our boardrooms and on to the shop floors of companies across Wales, so that the economic benefits are felt in communities across Wales. It is encouraging exactly the kind of cutting edge innovation and technology that Wales needs in order to compete globally and thrive.”

A new state-of-the-art facility is in development as part of Cardiff University’s £300 million Innovation Campus.

Our state-of-the-art equipment and modern facilities enable researchers and industry to work together. The Institute provides full-scale industrially relevant shared facilities to enable researchers and industry to meet research and exploitation demands.

Refurbished clean room facility

To meet current demand, we have upgraded an existing 225 square metre cleanroom in Cardiff University’s Queen’s Buildings, a grade II listed building that also houses the University’s Schools of Physics and Astronomy, Engineering, and Computer Science and Informatics.

During 2017, the Queen’s Buildings cleanroom has undergone a £600,000 refurbishment to improve room conditioning and provide necessary services required for the installation of new equipment. The programme has included upgrading:

  • temperature and humidity control
  • compressed dry air supply
  • vacuum
  • liquid nitrogen supply
  • process gas extract and scrubbing
  • ozone extract
  • electrical power supplies.

In addition to the cleanroom upgrade, the Institute of Compound Semiconductors (ICS) has, with support from both the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Welsh Government via European Regional Development Funds, invested in new equipment to bring a small area to 6-inch fabrication capability online.

Along with our ICS clean room, we also house a characterization lab over one large floor, and a breakout space where physicists and Institute staff meet to share ideas.

Latest equipment

Equipment purchased in 2017/18 includes:

  • Lesker PRO Line™ PVD 200™ THIN FILM DEPOSITION SYSTEM with UHV loadlock
  • Buhler Boxer Dielecric Evaporator
  • AET Wet Oxidation (AlOx) Furnace
  • Oxford Instruments PlasmaPro 100 Cobra 300 Plasma Etch Tool
  • Jipelec JetFirst 300 RTP Processor
  • Plasma Etch Inc. PE-100 Plasma Asher
  • SÜSS MicroTec MA6 Mask Aligner
  • Bruker DektakXT Advanced System (DXT-A)
  • Beneq TFS 200 Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) System.

New clean room facility in development

We are currently building a state-of-the-art 8-inch fabrication line that will be housed in the new Translational Research Facility (TRF), where we will relocate to a new, purpose built cleanroom facility.

This is part of Cardiff University’s new £300 million Innovation Campus, set to combine cutting-edge research, technology transfer, business development and student enterprise.

The Institute has received over £80 million investment for its new building and equipment including over £30 million of external investment. In addition to the 1500 square metre cleanroom, dedicated characterisation room and back end processing areas will enable us to process wafers up to 8-inches in diameter and expand our range of industry-standard services.

The Institute will share Innovation Campus with Cardiff Catalysis Institute, Social Science Research Park SPARK, and the Innovation Centre, a creative base for start-ups. The Institute will have access to shared facilities with its neighbours, including a TEDx auditorium and fabrication lab to trial new manufacturing technologies.