Cardiff-based scientists looking to pioneer futuristic technologies

Scientists from Cardiff University are set to join a £4 million project to develop technologies that can support the phone, space and defence systems of the future.

The project, which is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, will take place over five years and be led by the University of Bristol.

Assisted by research teams based in Cardiff, Glasgow, Cambridge and Birmingham as well as industry partners, it’ll explore the technology needed for 5G and 6G phone networks.

Researchers working on the project will develop gallium nitride (GaN)-on-diamond microwave technology and high-electron-mobility transistors, which are believed to be key in 5G networks.

Professor Paul Tasker, from the School of Engineering at Cardiff University, said: “A major performance advance in GaN transistors is targeted by exploiting the excellent electrical properties of GaN and the thermal properties of diamond,” he said.

There’s also a focus on IoT. Tasker added: “Compound semiconductor transistor advances are driving the technology infrastructure behind the Internet of Things.”

Professor Oliver Williams, who works in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the university, established the Cardiff Diamond Foundry. It’s the largest diamond growth group in the UK.

He said: “Diamond has unrivalled thermal conductivity with simultaneously high electrical resistivity. By combining the extreme thermal properties of diamond with the excellent electrical properties of GaN, one can hope for a new paradigm in power handling electronics.”

“Cardiff Diamond Foundry specialises in the integration of diamond with other materials for novel applications and thus this project is closely correlated with our main activities.”

The Institute of Compound Semiconductors – which is based at the Cardiff Innovation Campus – and the Compound Semiconductor Centre will have a fundamental role in this project.

Dr Wyn Meredith, from the centre, said: “The CSC has a mission to support high quality research in the UK which is highly likely to have a dramatic impact on compound semiconductor markets or applications…”

“We were particularly impressed in the scale of ambition in this work plan which aims to drive a step change in RF power improvement compared to current microwave component technology, a critical enabler for strategic applications in defence, medical, communication and space markets.”

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