Advanced manufacturer partners with University of Adelaide

Semiconductor manufacturing company Silanna is setting up a high-tech advanced manufacturing research facility at the University of Adelaide as part of a partnership to bring a new research capability to the state.

Silanna’s Chief Scientist, Dr Petar Atanackovic, is South Australian and a University of Adelaide graduate. He took his skills to California’s Silicon Valley and Stanford University, founding materials start-up Translucent in Palo Alto. Upon returning to Australia, he 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,” said 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.”

Silanna has a track record in demonstrating new semiconductor technologies and commercialisation, with products including new types of solar cells, antennas for mobile phones, power switches and light-emitting diodes. The first stage of its partnership with the university is the establishment of the state-of-the-art ‘picoFAB’ facility within the university’s Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences.

Said to be the first of its kind in South Australia, the facility is designed to engineer new semiconductor materials at the atomic level, driving Silanna’s advanced compound semiconductor research program in the process. At the heart of the new facility is a US$6.5 million tool that grows crystalline materials, atomic layer by atomic layer, purpose-built by international technology company Veeco Instruments.

“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,” said South Australian Minister for Industry and Skills David Pisoni.

“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.”