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imec goes transatlantic with UCF collaboration

11 Jul 2016

New 'imec Florida' location will focus on photonics and high-speed electronics development.

The Belgian high-tech research center imec has set up a new design center in Florida that will focus on the development of semiconductor technologies for photonics and high-speed electronics applications.

imec Florida is based in Osceola County and was set up in collaboration with the University of Central Florida (UCF), which has long-standing expertise in cutting-edge optics and photonics technology thanks to the renowned “CREOL” College of Optics and Photonics led by Bahaa Saleh.

Target applications
The new center kicked off with the signing of a collaboration agreement with UCF, Osceola County, and the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research (ICAMR). The latter is focused on setting up fabrication facilities to develop and produce devices based on a combination of compound semiconductor materials and silicon.

Targeted applications include terahertz and lidar, imaging, and a broad range of sensors, while imec Florida will also provide IC design expertise to assist with the ICAMR manufacturing research.

“Through imec Florida, imec’s design, prototyping and low-volume production service - also named imec IC-link - will provide the US market low-cost access to advanced foundry services, helping entrepreneurs (industry and academia) to design innovative products and get them to market,” announced the Leuven-headquartered organization.

Running the imec Florida facility as general manager will be Bert Gyselinckx. He previously managed operations at the Holst Center in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, which was set up in 2005 as a joint venture between imec and TNO, the Netherlands technology research organization.

By the end of this year, Gyselinckx and colleagues are looking to recruit around ten scientists and engineers, but that should expand to a headcount of approximately 100 within five years if all goes according to plan.

imec CEO Luc Van den hove said of the development: “Together with industrial and academic partners, we want to develop sustainable solutions and technology to accelerate innovation and stimulate economic growth within Osceola County and the State of Florida.”

Filling the factory
Osceola County is providing $15 million over five years to co-fund the design center with UCF, seeing photonics and high-speed electronics as “exponentially growing” fields that will help draw more attention to the advanced manufacturing center and also ensure maximum utilization of its services.

ICAMR chief Chester Kennedy added: “The imec Design Center is the funnel that will fill ICAMR with high-value manufacturing opportunities and we will work closely with them to make sure our capabilities tightly align with their technology direction. This partnership is poised to shine the global high-tech spotlight on Central Florida.”

The collaborative effort will be highlighted this week at the annual Imec Technology Forum (ITF) event, part of the Semicon West trade show taking place in downtown San Francisco. The invitation-only, half-day conference at the Marriott Marquis hotel typically focuses on wafer processing technology development.

At the ITF conference, Gyselinckx is due to give a talk on designing advanced photonics, high-speed electronics and sensors, while Philippe Absil, who heads up imec’s development efforts in silicon photonics, will cover optical interconnects. Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography is also on the agenda, in a talk entitled "getting ready for prime time".

Though probably best known for their work to advance lithography patterning of silicon wafers, in terms of photonics-related technologies, imec’s research teams in Belgium also work on application areas including advanced solar cells, hyperspectral image sensing and machine vision systems, and flexible electronics like organic LED displays.

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