The UK government has announced a £2 million grant to support the development of a potential replacement for silicon replacement by semiconductor firm NXP.

The funding is aimed at enabling research around electronics material gallium nitride (GaN), to develop power semiconductors as a possible replacement to conventional silicon electronics.

Gallium Nitride could be used to replace silicon components in integrated circuits for devices such as mobile phones and communications infrastructure in future. Power semiconductors using gallium nitride are said to have preferential properties in power conversion over silicon, such as greater efficiency.

The funding is part of £7.5 million Regional Growth Fund to support the private sector, and will help safeguard up to 400 existing jobs, as well as create 100 new positions in Stockport. The government hopes to use the funding to establish the UK as a research hub for global firm NXP.

It s expected that the funding will be used in the recruitment of research and development staff, produce prototypes, consult UK academics and provide equipment for the development phase.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander commented: “I’m very pleased that money from the Regional Growth Fund is supporting the world-leading GaN research facility in Stockport which is a real boost for the local area, supporting a huge private sector investment and local jobs,” Alexander said.

The Regional Growth Fund gives us the opportunity to support innovative projects like this and shows we are doing everything we can to boost growth and the position of the UK as a global leader in science and innovative technology.”

The government has been investing in other potential replacements for silicon electronics. Following the initial development of so-called 'wonder material' graphene in Manchester University, the government has attempted to capitalise on the properties of the material by investing in the a development hub, and supporting university research.

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