Advanced manufacturing at the University of Adelaide

| August 11, 2018

The Australian-based Silanna Group is setting up a high-tech advanced manufacturing research facility on the University of Adelaide campus.

Silanna Group is partnering with the University of Adelaide to bring new research capability to the state, developing world-leading products through the engineering of new and innovative semiconductor technology.

The first stage of the partnership is the establishment of the state-of-the-art ‘picoFAB’ facility within the University’s Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences.

The first of its kind in South Australia, this facility is designed to engineer new semiconductor materials at the atomic level, using novel materials and unique techniques.

University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Rathjen says: “This is not just an investment in a new facility at the University of Adelaide, it is the kind of investment in innovation, global connectivity and graduate skills that South Australia needs.

“It is a perfect example of how the University can bring together its outstanding research expertise, its unique facilities, its students and connections to attract global industry to Adelaide.”

This new facility will drive Silanna’s advanced compound semiconductor research program. At its heart is a new US$6.5 million tool that grows the new crystalline materials, atomic layer by atomic layer. The ‘Molecular Beam Epitaxy’ tool has been purpose-built by international technology company Veeco Instruments Inc.

Silanna has a track record in demonstrating new semiconductor technologies and commercialisation. The establishment of the picoFAB will add to the University’s diverse materials research programs, as well as the state’s growing advanced manufacturing industry.

Silanna’s products are used in the communications, defence, medical and space industries, including new types of solar cells, antennas for mobile phones, power switches and light-emitting diodes.

Silanna’s Chief Scientist, Dr Petar Atanackovic, is South Australian and a University of Adelaide graduate. After graduation he took his skills to California’s Silicon Valley and Stanford University. He founded Translucent, a unique materials start-up in Palo Alto and, upon returning to Australia, went on to develop commercial scale Gallium Aluminium Nitride semiconductors.

“I wanted to help create the same opportunities I had in Silicon Valley at the University of Adelaide,” says Dr Atanackovic. “The University has some unique capabilities on campus with research and training programs that are complementary to our operations, and access to a whole generation of potential young ‘quantum mechanics’ as future employees.

“Together with the new high-tech ecosystem that’s developing in Adelaide, and Adelaide’s lifestyle and culture as a centre of learning, there are clear drawcards to overseas professions and businesses wanting to establish themselves and take advantage of the opportunities that are here. Adelaide is very similar to Santa Barbara about 30 years ago. If there is a high-technology industry here, they will come.”

South Australian Minister for Industry and Skills the Hon. David Pisoni says: “The new partnership between the University of Adelaide and Silanna Group is a great example of industry and researchers working together to develop new commercial solutions and drive innovation—collaborations that we want to see more of in South Australia.

“Silanna’s new facility adds advanced manufacturing capabilities in South Australia that will attract further investment into our state. Importantly, it will provide STEM students with access to world class infrastructure that will give them practical experience and further their employment opportunities in their home state.”

Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences Executive Dean Professor Anton Middelberg says: “This partnership gives our students and staff the opportunity to engineer the cutting edge of science, in areas of future jobs.

“Having Silanna in our Faculty means our students will be interacting with industry researchers and global leaders in materials engineering for a great educational experience.”