Multi-million pound funding boost for research at James Watt Nanofabrication Centre

Published: 21 March 2007

Multi-million pound funding for a major nanoelectronics research project at the University of Glasgow has been announced this week.

Multi-million pound funding for a major nanoelectronics research project at the University of Glasgow has been announced this week.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funding, worth over £4m, is a huge boost to the University's new James Watt Nanofabrication Centre which will be officially opened by Lord Broers at 2pm tomorrow (Thursday 22 March 2007).

As world leaders in compound semiconductor transistor technology, five teams from the University of Glasgow will collaborate in a £4m research project, led by Professor Iain Thayne of the Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering, to develop transistor technologies required for future generations of integrated circuits. It is anticipated that the work will have a major impact in key areas of electronics including microprocessors for computers, but will also be used more widely in numerous medical, safety, imaging and communications applications.

Professor Iain Thayne said: 'This project between the Departments of Electronics and Electrical Engineering and Physics and Astronomy will deliver key information and understanding which will enable the semiconductor industry to continue to be one of the most successful on the planet in the coming decades.'

The James Watt Nanofabrication Centre is a new facility within Glasgow University centred on the Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering. The focus is on interdisciplinary research at the nanometre scale and brings together many different research groups working in engineering and the physical and life sciences.

The Centre has comprehensive micro and nanofabrication facilities housed within 750m2 of cleanroom space including one of the most advanced large area high resolution electron beam lithography tools in the world. Glasgow University has been engaged in micro and nanofabrication for more than thirty years and has a wealth of accumulated expertise in core fabrication technologies.

The Centre promotes external access through research collaboration and, on a purely commercial basis, through Kelvin Nanotechnology Ltd.

Martin Shannon (

PHOTOCALL: Lord Broers officially opens the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre

Time: 2.45pm Thursday 22 March 2007

Location: James Watt Nanofabrication Centre, University of Glasgow


The 200 billion dollar global semiconductor industry produces integrated circuits for all modern electronic appliances including mobile phones, cars, medical diagnostic equipment and systems to control the safe operation of factories and public transportation and the powering the Internet.

In short, they are vital to modern life in the 21st Century. Since the invention of the transistor in 1957, manufacturers such as AMD, Intel, IBM and Freescale have been successful in developing ever more complex integrated circuits by making the individual transistors smaller and finding ways to combine more of them together on a single chip. The result has been a regular increase in the computational and processing capability of integrated circuits by doubling the number of transistors in each circuit every 2-3 years.

Currently the most advanced integrated circuits contain hundreds of millions of transistors, each of which is 1/10,000 of the diameter of a human hair in size. Until now, this increase in capability has resulted from making smaller silicon-based transistors, however fundamental limits imposed by the properties of silicon are now being reached so that alternative materials need to be considered. In the view of all the major manufacturers, a strong candidate to enable continued performance improvements for the industry are compound semiconductors.

Lord Broers FREng FRS

Lord Broers, President of The Royal Academy of Engineering 2001− 2006, played a significant role in making the University of Cambridge a centre of excellence for high technology and was vice-chancellor between 1996 and 2003. He spent nearly 20 years of his career in research with IBM in the USA, before returning to Cambridge, where he set up a nanofabrication laboratory to extend the technology of miniaturisation to the atomic scale. He also developed his research on using electrons, X-rays and ultra-violet light in microscopy and on making microelectronic components. In 2004, Lord Broers was made a life Peer in recognition of his contribution to engineering and higher education.

Further information:

Martin Shannon, Media Relations Officer University of Glasgow Tel: 0141 330 8593 email:

Professor Ian Thayne Tel: 0141 330 5218 Email:

First published: 21 March 2007

<< March