IISc wants to build a semiconductor unit to reduce India's dependence on imports

IISc wants to build a semiconductor unit to reduce India's dependence on imports
Photo Credit: Pixabay
26 Jun, 2018

The Union government is likely to begin a feasibility study for a Rs 2,500-crore semiconductor fabrication unit proposed by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), according to a report in The Economic Times.

If Bengaluru-based IISc’s proposal is approved, it could boost India’s prospects of building a local semiconductor industry.

India is a $100 billion electronics market, but a large chunk of semiconductors used in the country are imports owing to limited local facilities.

The country only has two semiconductor fabrication units at present - SITAR in Bengaluru and Semiconductor Laboratory in Chandigarh. The latter is a non-commercial unit, with its output being used only for strategic applications such as defence and space.

The report said that IISc’s proposal, which is backed by the government’s policy think-think Niti Aayog, recommends building semiconductors based on Galium Nitride, a material commonly used in light emitting diodes (LEDs), thereby replacing conventional silicon-based semiconductors. The silicon chip technology is currently dominated by US and China.

In addition to building the chips, the IISc proposal includes building systems for applications in power electronics and radio frequency electronics used for cellphone towers in 5G applications and military radars, added the report.

“They (IISc) have prepared a detailed project report. It needs a different kind of appraisal —financial and sustainability and profitability,” a Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) official was quoted as saying.

This development comes against the backdrop of China announcing earlier this month that it is set to invest $47 billion in bettering its chip (semiconductor) design and manufacturing abilities. China consumes almost half of the world’s chip output, while roughly only 16% of semiconductors used in China are produced in the country, US magazine The National Interest reported.