News Article

Semiconductor Research Gets £10 Million Renewal Contract

A cutting-edge University of Sheffield research facility, which studies advances in semiconductors used in the internet, solar cells, DVD players and gas detection, has received a £10 million renewal contract, enabling academic experts throughout the UK to continue making technological breakthroughs.


The EPSRC National Centre for III-V Technologies, based in the University's Centre for Nanoscience and Technology, is set to benefit from the cash over the next five years, to support research in III-V semiconductor materials and devices, which play a fundamental role in many of the technologies which transform everyday life.

Research into these semiconductors has been taking place at the University's facility - which benefited from a University-funded £6.5 million clean room in 2006 - for 32 years. Nearly 800 scientific publications have been produced from Facility output over the last 10 years.  The Facility serves all Universities and researchers across the UK, enabling top-rate scientific research in the physical, engineering and biomedical sciences. Current applied projects include studies of solar cells via QuantaSol, a spin-out company from Imperial College and the University of Sheffield, which uses a technique for the production of high efficiency solar cells.

The Facility is also highly active in the development of a more efficient production technique for quantum cascade lasers. These are used for gas detection, pollution monitoring and oil exploration as the technology can detect very small quantities of gases given off by oil deposits. Possible other uses for this technology in the future include its use in car exhausts to monitor pollutants and feed back to the engine to adjust fuel flow, reducing emissions and improving efficiency.

Professor Peter Houston, Director of the EPSRC National Centre for III-V Technologies at the University of Sheffield's Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, said: "We are extremely pleased to receive this investment which will enable us to continue our long tradition of enabling very high quality UK academic research in this field. Much of the research will result in improvements in quality of life for everyone in the future."

The Facility's work on high efficiency III-V solar cells comes as the University of Sheffield launches a unique venture entitled Project Sunshine. The project aims to unite scientists in finding ways to harness the power of the sun and tackle one of the biggest challenges facing the world today: meeting the increasing food and energy needs of the world´s population in the context of an uncertain climate and global environment change. To find out more, visit:
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