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UK semiconductor delegation seeks Taiwanese partners in high-tech collaboration push

Jerry Chen, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Spearheaded by Innovate UK and the British office, a delegation of 9 UK-based semiconductor companies has come to Taiwan to find local collaboration partners.

The delegation visiting Taiwan from June 3 to June 7 includes companies in design/IP, advanced packaging/heterogeneous integration, compound semiconductors, silicon photonics, AI hardware, and quantum & optical computing.

At the UK Taiwan Semiconductor Showcase held in the Hotel Royal Hsinchu on June 5, these 9 representatives of UK companies showcased and interacted with Taiwan-based chip manufacturers looking to scale up and further optimize their production.

The initiative is part of a five-year joint research and development effort dubbed "Global Business Innovation Program (GBIP)." The program is under the framework of a bilateral trade memorandum of understanding signed by Taiwan's Department of Industrial Technology and Innovate UK in November 2022.

From training to market

"Taiwan is a big priority for these companies, and this is the starting point for them," says Jessica Henry, the Director of Economic Growth of the Taipei British Office regarding the program.

Before the showcase, the companies went through a six-month training program where the British government's business commercialization arm, Innovate UK, helped these solution providers pinpoint their business needs and give them a firm understanding of the Taiwanese market.

"We don't just bring them to the market, we prepare them for the market," says Innovate UK's Program Manager Louise Hooker. On the Taiwan side, the event is facilitated by the Photonics Industry & Technology Development Association (PIDA).

PIDA highlights the significance of the event, saying direct business-to-business interactions are rare as most of the time governments are the ones doing the investment promotions. The UK chip delegation includes Advancete, Bay Photonics, Gencoa, Kubos Semiconductors, Lumai, Nanomation, ProSpectral, QuInAs Technology, and Skylark.

Company profiles

Advancete founded in 2016, specializes in pulse laser ablation. They have developed two patent-protected solutions, AquaLase and UltraSleeve that have been proven and demonstrated at the prototype stage.

The former is a liquid-assisted laser processing for dicing and drilling thick and brittle wafers. It utilizes an ultrashort pulsed laser ablation technique along with active liquid spray cooling.

Bay Photonics, founded in 2007, harnesses the power of light through its expertise in designing, packaging, assembling, and testing cutting-edge semiconductor-based photonic devices. Their services entail intricate integration and packaging of photonic devices that generate and manipulate single photons, quantum states of light, and quantum information.

Gencoa founded in 1994 is a leading designer and maker of vacuum coating, setting industry benchmarks in magnetron plasma deposition components and process monitoring and control. Their solution "Optix" is an optical gas sensor for use in any vacuum environment, functioning through a uniquely wide range of operating pressures, making it compatible with high-pressure semiconductor processes including CVD, ALD, and ALE.

Kubos Semiconductor, founded in 2017, has developed and commercialized Cubic GaN, a novel compound semiconductor material aimed at visible light LED applications. Cubic GaN is a proprietary material epitaxially grown using standard industry equipment and processed on 150mm wafer diameter silicon substrates. It is scalable to 200mm. The company is currently preparing to launch the cubic GaN material platform into the rapidly growing microLED display market for AR/VR applications.

Lumai, founded in 2022, has its research roots in the University of Oxford and has developed a unique 3D optical computing technology, enabling AI deployment at scale with a fast and energy-efficient AI processor. The company's processor encompasses digital silicon, compound semiconductors, photonics, and 3D optics. It uses modern components from mature industries including communications, displays, and imaging.

Nanomation founded in 2022, is a semiconductor software company that enables the automated fabrication of devices that integrate advanced semiconducting nanomaterials. Its solution enables the widespread use of nanomaterials for applications including computer memory, sensors, and quantum devices. Nanomation's software makes nanomaterial device fabrication approximately 10,000 times faster and enables rapid material characterization, allowing more efficient materials research and integration in advanced commercial semiconductor applications.

ProSpectral, founded in 2022, is developing next-generation snapshot spectral imagers for materials identification using computer vision. The company's technology uses off-the-shelf image sensors which are modified with ProSpectral's intelligently designed nanostructured filters.

These thin layers of material (100s nanometres) can be coated and patterned using standard semiconductor industry processes, thin film deposition, lithography, and etching. Their imaging sensor technology enables the use of less complex and much cheaper cameras and improves manufacturability, form factor, data quality, and robustness.

QuInAs Technology, founded in 2023 from Lancaster University, developed a patented technology ULTRARAM. Designed to be a universal memory solution, it employs resonant tunneling and quantum-mechanical process, to achieve non-volatility with fast and energy-efficient write and erase operations, offering high endurance. The solution combines the best traits of DRAM and NAND flash. It is as fast as DRAM but non-volatile like flash, with high endurance and ultra-low switching energies.

Skylark, founded in 1988, is a leading photonics company pioneering ultra-stable, single-frequency Continuous Wave (CW) DPSS lasers. The company's advantage lies in patent-pending technology that significantly reduces UV degradation within the laser cavity, extending the lifespan of critical components by thousands of hours.

Skylark lasers provide manufacturers with invaluable data which results in significant yield improvements and faster R&D cycles, accelerating time to market for new products. This is the second iteration of this initiative. The 9 visiting companies are expected to return in September 2024 for SEMICON Taiwan, setting up booths in the UK pavilion.