Economy Secretary Ken Skates has welcomed Cardiff University’s new refurbished £4m Institute for Compound Semiconductors Clean Room.

Local business leaders across South Wales attended the launch of the new facility, which offers a range of solutions for companies working to develop 21st century technologies.

Guests were able to learn more about the refurbished 225 square metre Clean Room and the role it plays in assisting businesses across South Wales as part of CS Connected – the world’s first Compound Semiconductor cluster.

The ICS Clean Room, situated in the University’s Queen’s Building, has undergone a £600,000 refit to improve room conditioning in preparation for new equipment.

And in addition to the clean room upgrade, ICS has invested in new equipment to bring a small area to 6-inch fabrication capability online, with support from both the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Welsh Government via European Regional Development Funds totalling £3.3m.

ICS will see further improvements, including state-of-art laboratory space and an increased 8-inch fabrication capability, when it moves into the new Translational Research Facility on Maindy Road – part of Cardiff Innovation Campus.

Economy Secretary, Ken Skates said: “The ICS Clean Room is an outstanding example of a leading edge facility being developed with Welsh Government support. The project helps to bridge the gap between research and commercial solutions, taking ideas from the lab bench into our boardrooms and on to the shop floors of companies across Wales, so that the economic benefits are felt in communities across Wales. It is encouraging exactly the kind of cutting edge innovation and technology that Wales needs in order to compete globally and thrive.”

Professor Peter Smowton, Director of the Institute of Compound Semiconductors said: “The Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS) provides cutting-edge facilities that help researchers and industry work together to translate the science into a commercial production environment and the clean room is a critical part of that. Many advances in our daily lives depend upon compound semiconductor (CS) technology. The EPSRC funding allows ICS and its partner companies to continue to develop technology that enables emerging trends, such as self-drive vehicles and 5G communications.”

ICS turns its laboratory research into products and services by working with commercial partners to lead in developing one of the world’s key enabling technologies and along with the Compound Semiconductor Centre – a joint business venture with Cardiff-based IQE which forms part of CS Connected.

Clean room manager, Dr Angela Sobiesierski said: “The upgrade and new equipment has transformed the ICS cleanroom into a robust, fit for purpose facility that is well placed to meet the requirements of Academic driven research projects and also meet the demands of our commercial customers and project partners.”