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Indian institute gets $12 million to push III-Vs

IIT Kharagpur's RF industry veteran CTO is hoping to use new epitaxial capabilities to encourage India's flourishing design houses into compounds.

by Andy Extance
The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kharagpur has received $12 million in government funds to set up a semiconductor nano-growth facility.

The money was awarded specifically to Dhrubes Biswas, an RF compound semiconductor expert whose lengthy CV includes establishing the first 6-inch GaAs HBT process at Anadigics.

Now CTO and professor of electronics and electrical communication engineering at Kharagpur, Biswas told compoundsemiconductor.net that this money was primarily for RF front ends.

“In India, we have about 100 design companies in Bangalore, but none of them work in III-V,” Biswas observed. “My role as IIT s CTO is to motivate them into getting into front end, where compound semiconductors can have an impact, using our lab to give them prototypes.”

Having been awarded the money in July, Biswas is now buying MBE and MOCVD equipment to go into IIT Kharagpur's existing Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) electronics lab.

In the two years since he joined IIT Kharagpur, Biswas has already introduced III-As, III-P and SiGe processing to its highly-reputed electronics facility. This has been achieved in conjunction with a consortium of 14 companies, including Intel, Texas Instruments, National Semiconductor, Agilent and Analog Devices.

These firms provide funding to support an “open innovation platform” in which Kharagpur recruits high-end graduates to work on industry-guided PhDs, helping to develop and retain these skills in India.

Global ambition
Currently Biswas has 6 PhD students, but he hopes to expand his group's size to 30. Likewise, his ambitions for the III-V capability at Kharagpur also reach considerably further than his already respectable achievements.

“I am on a quest to get a research innovation lab in IIT as well,” Biswas said. “I got the first $12 million dollars for the epi part, now I am trying to get $50 million for the remainder of the process.”

“Eventually we will end up with a complete innovation fab out of IIT Kharagpur which can make products using our design expertise for the local globalized business industry out of Bangalore, Hyderabad, or Delhi.”

Biswas is well qualified to deliver on these promises. When he joined Anadigics in 1999, the company proudly announced his inclusion in the list of 2000 Outstanding Scientists of the 20th Century.

This acclaim comes partly as a result of Biswas role in founding Singapore s MBE Technology, which is now a part of IQE. He was also involved in the start-up phases at Mimix Broadband and set up the first 4-inch PHEMT process at Alpha Industries, which later became Skyworks.

Now back at Kharagpur, where he did his original undergraduate studies, Biswas is keen to apply his entrepreneurial tendencies in his home country, or to help others to follow in his footsteps.

“I ve been dealing with compound semiconductors all through my life,” he explained, “and what I really want now is for people in India to understand III-Vs more, use them, build them locally and create a global business out of it.”

Andy Extance is a reporter at compoundsemiconductor.net.

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