Set to have a major impact on the semiconductor industry is Surrey NanoSystems, a new company resulting from leading UK technology venture company IP Group teaming up with scientists from the University of Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) and CEVP Ltd., a leader in plasma tool manufacture. The new company’s remit is to provide commercial tools for producing nanomaterials.

IP Group has financed the joint venture company in which ATI scientists are developing a ‘NanoGrowth’™ machine in conjunction with specialists from CEVP. Using patented technologies and recipes developed by the university, the NanoGrowth machine represents the world’s first commercial tool for low temperature growth of carbon nanotubes, which can provide high quality, high speed connections to the next generation of silicon chips. The low temperatures used permit the use of existing silicon semiconductor materials which are not able to withstand the high growth temperatures previously required for the formation of nanotubes.

The low temperature carbon nanotube growth process is expected to be of considerable use in both academic and commercial laboratories for the development of practical nanomaterial production techniques for high technology applications. Likely applications include low resistance nanowires in integrated circuits, semiconducting nanotubes for fabricating high performance transistors, micro-miniature heat sinks, ultra-tough polymer composites, gas sensors and light sources for flat panel displays.

Outlining the potential significance of the initiative, Ben Jensen, technical director for CEVP, said, “I am incredibly excited by the partnership mix between IP Group, the University of Surrey and Surrey NanoSystems. This will enable the company to break new ground in the manufacturing and use of carbon nanotubes and nanostructures within the CMOS process window.”