Newport Wafer Fab is one of two South Wales businesses to receive funding from UK Research and Innovation to develop advanced components for longer range electric vehicles.

Semiconductor businesses CSC and Newport Wafer Fab are to develop new production processes to deliver high voltage semiconductor chip technology using gallium nitride on silicon. The new fabrication process will harness more than 30 years’ experience in manufacturing silicon chips for power conversion at Newport Wafer Fab.

The Newport facility is already accredited to supply its products to the global automotive industry and will use unique wafer processes developed by CSC in partnership with its parent company IQE at its Cardiff facility.

Sam Evans, NWFs director of external affairs, said: “This is an exciting step towards our vision of becoming a major manufacturer of compound semiconductor-on-silicon products. We see the power components market as an excellent area to address in our plans to expand our current manufacturing footprint of 8,000 to 14,000 wafer starts per week.”

Rob Harper, GaN programme manager at CSC, said: “The GaN power chip market is expected to exceed £0.5bn by 2025 with massive future growth opportunity for adoption in electric vehicles. We are collaborating with global power semiconductor partners to help steer the process roadmap.”

Dr Wyn Meredith, director of the CSC, said: "This is an excellent example of two partners in the South Wales semiconductor ecosystem building on their respective technology and manufacturing strengths to offer advanced, next generation foundry services to the global semiconductor industry.

"Already this year we have seen the automotive industry output constrained due to a worldwide shortage in semiconductor chips with Volkswagen, Ford, Subaru, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Fiat Chrysler all reporting an impact to production, including temporary factory stoppages.

"Increasing electric vehicle demand will exacerbate such supply issues, so there is a huge opportunity to capture more market share for the Welsh semiconductor industry.’

Newport Wafer Fab is the world’s first integrated silicon and silicon-on-compound semiconductor foundry, and the UK’s largest semiconductor manufacturing plant, employing 450 technical and manufacturing staff.

The site, in Duffryn, has more than 30 years of experience of fabricating semiconductor devices ranging from silicon power devices to compound semiconductor photonic integrated circuits.