£3M Diamond Electronics Development Project wins Technology Strategy Board Funding

Wed, 12th August 2009

A consortium led by Diamond Microwave Devices Ltd (DMD) has won major funding from the High Value Manufacturing Initiative of the Technology Strategy Board, the government-funded body that supports technological innovation in the UK. Newcastle-based INEX is an integral part of the consortium, which also includes Element Six Ltd, MBDA UK Ltd, and the University of Sheffield.

The investment will support the development of an innovative diamond-based high power, high-temperature, microwave transistor and build a demonstrator microwave pulsed power amplifier capable of >100W output power.

Dr Richard Lang, general manager of DMD says, “We are delighted to receive this significant backing for our work on the next generation of microwave transistors based on innovative diamond material and device concepts. It marks the next phase in our company’s development and our ambitions to bring breakthrough technology into a key market area.”

Dr Paul Huggett, Diamond Business Area Manager at INEX shared his enthusiasm by stating that “A continued relationship with DMD and Element Six in the development of diamond electronic device concepts and processing technology are core to our strategy to establish INEX as the world leader in diamond electronic device fabrication”. Professor Ken Snowdon, Managing Director at INEX supported that view, emphasizing in addition the TSB vote of confidence in maintaining high value specialist application electronics manufacturing in the UK. 

The investment will support a project dubbed Microwave Power using Diamond (MPower-D). Element Six, the world leader in diamond synthesis technology is developing the diamond material and INEX will continue work for DMD, further developing the diamond processing technology.  MBDA, Europe’s leading missile systems company, brings its application knowledge and potential pull-through while the III-V Centre at the University of Sheffield is contributing to fundamental research related to materials growth and device processing.

Diamond transistors being developed in this project could be used in power amplifiers for microwave signals in communications, space and defence applications. The technology is expected to create a world-leading UK-based solid state microwave module development and manufacturing value chain.

Commenting on the Technology Strategy Board's support for the project, their Lead Technologist for High Value Manufacturing, Tonino Amorelli, said: "We are committed to stimulating the development of technologies which, as well as maintaining the UK's international competitiveness, also represent major business opportunities. We are therefore very pleased to support the MPower-D project, which brings together world-class expertise from around the UK to develop an innovative technology that could be exploited globally."

DMD and its partners bid successfully for the funding against stiff competition for the limited funds.  When the successful projects were announced, Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said, "This investment is intended to maintain and develop the international competitiveness of UK manufacturing companies against a backdrop where manufacturing often gravitates to countries with the lowest overall costs. Manufacturing in high wage economies, such as the UK, has to continue to innovate and change to remain competitive. It's also important to ensure that companies continue to innovate during the downturn to ensure a successful recovery for the UK economy. "