As part of the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering’s Lecture Series in January, we enjoyed an outstanding lecture from Professor David Wallis on his work on gallium nitride (GaN) – a new type of Compound Semiconductor enabling a revolution in the performance of electronic devices.
GaN is the material at the core of the LED lighting revolution and has already transformed the way electricity is used to generate light: GAN LEDs are 10 times more efficient than incandescent light bulbs. Professor Wallis is also undertaking research to develop GaN based transistors, which are again significantly more efficient than their silicon-based counterparts. These transistors will transform the way we transmit information in mobile phone networks and convert electricity form AC to DC and different voltages in power networks. Altogether GaN based devices have the potential to reduce total global electricity consumption by up to 25%, the equivalent to closing around 2500 coal-fired power stations. It is therefore clear that this is a technology that will have, and is already having, significant impact on a global scale.
In recognition of the importance of this area of technology, Cardiff University, together with the Welsh and UK governments and local industry, is currently investing close to £500m in the development of the world’s first Compound Semiconductor Cluster in South Wales.
This is done under the banner of ‘CS Connected’ and includes institutions such as our Institute for Compound Semiconductors and the EPSRC Compound Semiconductor Hub, the Compound Semiconductor Centre, the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult and business partners IQE, SPTS and Microsemi.
CS Connected has already reached end users such as Airbus, General Dynamics and GE Healthcare. The CS Connected partners will deliver world-leading research in Compound Semiconductors which have transformational applications in big data, cyber-security, communications, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, automotive vehicles, 3D imaging, aerospace, energy efficiency, power control, safety, security, space applications and satellite systems – delivering huge societal benefit.