The University of Twente (UT) along with local companies and governmental organizations is pushing for financial support to build a pilot production factory for heterogeneous chip systems in the Twente region. The foundry is to manufacture electronics, photonics and, in time, chips that combine multiple technologies. The facility would also double as a testing ground for locally developed equipment used to manufacture such devices.
“We have all the key technologies in-house: analog mixed-signal and RF design, photonics, quantum photonics, microfluidics, materials, thin-film application and advanced manufacturing. Since heterogeneous chips are in an early phase of development, we see Twente as an excellent opportunity for pilot production of these heterogeneous chips. We have the ambition to grow towards large-scale production,” comments Timo Meinders, director of UT’s Mesa+ institute.
The Chip Tech Twente consortium is also making a case for increased investments in microelectronics R&D in the Netherlands, pointing out that upcoming technologies such as integrated photonics and quantum computing need electronics to work. “We’re asking for increased attention in the Netherlands for the ‘forgotten’ field of microelectronics, which unfortunately hasn’t been designated as a key technology in the Netherlands by the Ministry of Economic Affairs. As a result, there’s much less money available for research and the education of talent,” says Bram Nauta, UT professor of IC design.
Nauta notes that by investing in electronic chip design and fundamental and applied research “Europe can balance the mutual dependencies between Asia, the US and Europe.” This is a major goal of the recently launched EU Chips Act, which is supported by the Dutch government.