Chris’ career in electronics and semiconductors started at British Telecom Research Laboratories before joining a new joint venture between BT and US based DuPont in 1986.
Chris was part of the founding team at Epitaxial Products International Ltd (EPI) in Cardiff in 1988 which became IQE plc in 1999 following the merger with a US competitor and a successful IPO. Cardiff headquartered IQE is listed on the London Stock Exchange’s AiM (IQE.L) and comprises multiple operations in the UK, Asia and the USA.
A science and engineering graduate, Chris also holds an MBA and has held a number of senior management positions within the IQE Group.
He is a Director of CSconnected Ltd, representing the world’s first compound semiconductor cluster that is rapidly evolving across South Wales and the West of England.
IQE is the leading global supplier of advanced semiconductor wafers with products that cover a diverse range of applications, supported by an innovative outsourced foundry services portfolio that allows the Group to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for the wafer needs of the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers.
IQE uses advanced crystal growth technology (epitaxy) to manufacture and supply bespoke semiconductor wafers ‘epi-wafers’ to the major chip manufacturing companies, who then use these wafers to make the chips which form the key components of virtually all high technology systems. IQE is unique in being able to supply wafers using all of the leading crystal growth technology platforms.
IQE’s products are found in many leading-edge consumer, communication, computing and industrial applications, including a complete range of wafer products for the wireless industry, such as mobile handsets and wireless infrastructure, Wi-Fi, WiMAX, base stations, GPS, and satellite communications; optical communications, optical storage, laser optical mouse, laser printers & photocopiers, thermal imagers, leading-edge medical products, barcode, ultra high brightness LEDs, a variety of advanced silicon based systems and high efficiency concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) solar cells.
The manufacturers of these chips are increasingly seeking to outsource wafer production to specialist foundries such as IQE in order to reduce overall wafer costs and accelerate time to market.
IQE also provides bespoke R&D services to deliver customised materials for specific applications and offers specialist technical staff to manufacture to specification either at its own facilities or on the customer’s own sites. The Group is also able to leverage its global purchasing volumes to reduce the cost of raw materials. In this way IQE’s outsourced services, provide compelling benefits in terms of flexibility and predictability of cost, thereby significantly reducing operating risk.
IQE operates a number of manufacturing and R&D facilities worldwide.
CSconnected represents organisations who are directly associated with research, development, innovation and manufacturing of compound semiconductor related technologies as well as organisations along the supply chains whose products and services are enabled by compound semiconductors.
The UK, and in particular, Wales, is home to a growing number of organisations and businesses that are active in this increasingly important industry sector.
In 2015, Cardiff University announced an investment of around £75M in the Institute for Compound Semiconductors as part of its new £300M Innovation Campus. The announcement for the Institute was quickly followed by the creation of a £24M joint venture between IQE plc and Cardiff University to form the Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC) for the development and prototyping of compound semiconductor materials.
Hot on the heels of the launch of the CSC, came the announcement that the UK Government was to invest £50M in the first Catapult Centre in Wales that would be dedicated to the development of compound semiconductor applications.
In 2016, EPSRC announced a £10M investment in a Compound Semiconductor Hub to be based at Cardiff University.
In 2017, the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) Regional Cabinet supported the cluster with a £37.9 investment towards the establishment of a state of the art foundry, as an anchor in the region for high-end production of compound semiconductors.
Given such a prominent regional presence of compound semiconductor activity, it was perhaps inevitable that the key cluster partners would come together to prepare a compelling application under the UK Government’s Strength in Places programme designed to bolster investment in research, development and innovation by building on key regional strengths.
The successful £43m CSconnected bid to formalise cluster activities was announced on 26th June 2020. The project centres on four key collaborative research and development (CRD) programmes, namely: next generation optical communications and sensing; large Scale GaAs-based wafer manufacturing; novel and efficient CS Wafer Fabrication Tools; and Advanced processes for 5G and EAV systems.
In addition to the four CRD programmes, activities also include the formation of a central coordination activity to represent and promote the cluster and to develop regional educational and skills capabilities for the sector. The project will also encompass the setting up of a dedicated ‘home’ for the CSconnected cluster that will include meeting & conference facilities, an outreach hub and a visitor centre.
Compound semiconductors are at the heart of many devices we use today, and are set to play an increasingly important role in next generation technologies.