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IISc gets Rs 3,000-crore to produce ‘wonder’ nano material

The Central government has given its initial assent for an investment of Rs. 3,000 crore towards the Centre of Nano Science and Engineering(CeNSE), to set up the production of a ‘wonder’ nanomaterial called gallium nitride at the Indian Institute of Science Centre. Gallium nitride (GaN) is an emerging highly efficient semiconductor for next-gen technologies such as radars and communication systems.

Gallium Nitrite is described as a wide-gap semiconductor with unique electronic properties. It is a far superior alternative to the presently used silica-based conductors, with a flow quality that surpasses that of silicon. This power electronics is constituted of the circuits present in machines of daily use, including laptops, air-conditioners and even cars.

The IISc has proposed that a foundry be constructed around an already existing facility that produces gallium nitride transistors on silicon wafers. According to Prof. S A Shivashankar of the CeNSE, “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”.

The expected revenue generation is in the range of $700 million ( approx. Rs. 4,500 Cr). Essentially, this will propagate large leaps and bounds in the strategic technology facilities of India, providing efficient energy consumption systems to unmanned vehicles, even in phased array radars – the likes of which are fitted on modern fighter jets.

This is not the first electronic advance made by the CeNSE since it’s inauguration in 2015; Gallium Nitride transistors are already being sold to various researchers in the country. The foundation of the steady development of the GaN industry was laid by Japanese Nobel prize winners Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura, with their groundbreaking work on Blue Lighting Emitting Diodes using GaN as a primary component. The creation of a commercial GaN foundry would only serve to fulfil the rising demand in the industry for emerging technologies.

With an already existing market of $36 billion, GaN uncaps a whole new potential avenue for power based electronics. This will probably expand the market by a wide margin.

By: Tarun Rao

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