£1.68M UK government grant for Bizen transistor technology


Search For The Next’s (SFN) Bizen technology has received an award worth £1.7M to further the development of the enabling transistor process technology.

The transistor process technology will be the foundation for the success of British and worldwide industries in all sectors.

The grant has been made by the ‘Driving the Electric Revolution Challenge’ program, part of UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The aim of the initiative is to position the UK to seize the economic opportunities from the global transition to clean technologies and electrification, helping businesses across numerous sectors including transport, energy, construction and agriculture to invest and work together to capitalise on the UK’s strengths in this technology. SFN is one of more than 30 partner research and technology organisations that will collaborate in new Industrialisation Centres announced by the UK government.

Bizen is a new semiconductor process that applies the principles of quantum tunnel mechanics to any computing or power technology. When compared to CMOS, Bizen results in a five-fold lead time reduction - down from 15 weeks to just three weeks. Moreover, the new process achieves a three-fold increase in gate density that produces a matching three-fold reduction in die size. Importantly, Bizen halves the number of process layers required. All this is achieved while equalling or bettering the speed and low power capabilities offered by current CMOS devices.

Dr Neil Calder, Director, Engineered Capabilities Limited said: “Bizen has the potential to be an enabling and a foundation technology which will enable and empower industry all across the UK and globally to deliver next-generation products and services in all sectors.”

Commented David Summerland, CEO SFN: “We are extremely pleased that the UK government has recognised the key role that Bizen will play in enabling the UK to meet its ambitious net zero targets. Bizen has the ability to enable the UK to develop a leadership position in semiconductor manufacturing. My challenge to industry is this: have a look at Bizen and we are sure that you’ll see that it’s impossible to produce a wide variety of ICs at a lower cost or on a shorter TTM. Truly, CMOS is history.”

Bizen technology lets designers create a simpler circuit with far fewer layers and increased logic density. For example, the number of layers needed for a Bizen device range from four to eight for devices supporting low to high voltage operation, compared with ten to seventeen for CMOS. Using Bizen, power consumption drops, the size drops and the integration and speed increases, allowing complex devices to be manufactured in the large geometry fabs that exist in the UK.

Since mid-2018, SFN has been in collaboration with Semefab, the well-known, indigenous, privately-owned semiconductor and MEMS fab based in Glenrothes, Scotland, for process development and qualification leading to device production. First test chips are planned for this summer.