The government has granted initial approval to The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) to set up a foundry worth Rs 3,000 crore for the production of a “wonder” nano material, gallium nitride, which is emerging as one of the most promising semiconductors for next-generation strategic technologies, which includes communication systems and radar. According to Indian Express reports, the proposed foundry is supposed to be developed around an existing facility for producing gallium nitride transistors on silicon wafers and the development is supposed to take place under the supervision of associate professor Srinivasan Raghavan.
Indian Express quoted Prof. S A Shivashankar of the CeNSE saying, “The proposal is currently at the highest level of the government. It needs about Rs 3,000 crore and is seen as a strategic-sector investment.”
A superior alternative to silica-based semiconductors, nano material Gallium Nitride, or GaN is expected to generate revenues within the range of $700 million by 2020. The current revenue generated is within the range of $300. “The proposal to set up a foundry at the IISc for producing GaN is a good development. Gallium nitride technology will substantially help in the development of next-generation radars, seekers and communication systems, and will be useful in systems like Light Combat Aircraft,” said R K Sharma, the director of the DRDO’s (Defence Research and Development Organisation) Solid State Physics Lab.
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In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the CeNSE facility at the IISc which at this juncture is trying to create an ecosystem of GaN electronics, which includes devices, system and materials. CeNSE is already selling GaN-based transistors to researchers across the country. The development of the foundry will only help the industry demands for emerging technology. Director Sharma thinks that gallium nitride conductors are an answer to the to the much needed efficient energy consumption and since countries like China have been investing in such strategies, India too needs to do so.
GaN semi-conductors can be used in phased array radars for electronic warfare. The GaN technologies foundation was laid down by 2014 Nobel Physics Prize-winning scientists work. The wide-gap semiconductor GaN has unique electronic properties which makes it possible to operate at high temperatures and at high switching speeds where the power flow is much more than that of silica. Prof Srinivasan Raghavan says in a section on GaN at the CeNSE website that every electronic device has an electronic circuit that handles very high voltages and power and it is these circuits that constitute the field of power electronics.