ISRO Planning To Build Additional Fab At Semiconductor Laboratory In Chandigarh: Report

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  • This is to scale up capacity to meet the growing demand for chipsets for rockets and satellites
  • SCL has a 180-nanometre facility that produces chips for strategic purposes
Source: Indian Space Research Organisation website

As per a report by the Economic Times, ISRO plans to build an additional fab at Semiconductor Laboratory (SCL), its chip making facility in Chandigarh. This is to scale up capacity to meet the growing demand for chipsets for rockets and satellites.

Recently, the Indian government has invited proposals from entities to set up electronic chip manufacturing units in the country and even acquire any company making semiconductors overseas. The expression of interest floated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) said that the Government of India is keen to incentivise and attract investment in setting up of Semiconductor FABs in India. India is poised to increase its share in global manufacturing of Mobile Phones, IT Hardware, Automotive Electronics, Industrial Electronics, Medical Electronics, IoT and other devices in the near future as it aspires to have $400 billion of electronics manufacturing by the year 2025.

Lack of a homegrown ecosystem of semiconductor manufacturers

The report added that SCL has a 180-nanometre facility that produces chips for strategic purposes. SCL and the Semiconductor Technology and Applied Research Centre (SITAR) in Bengaluru, which has a 100-nanometre unit, also make micro-electrical mechanical systems (MeMs) and sensors that have applications in critical areas added the report.

It added that most of India’s requirement is met by imports. This is due to a lack of a homegrown ecosystem of semiconductor manufacturers. The report added that an ISRO official, who did not want to be named, said that there is a need to increase localisation (of components and chipsets). The plan is to reduce imports and increase indigenisation.

The report said that the official said that ISRO has built homegrown capacity to build chips with 65-nanometre technology. Isro’s success in building the Vikram processor, crucial for navigation and guidance control of its rockets. It’s collaboration with IITs to build homegrown chips for Navic receivers that will increase the accuracy of navigation across remote corners of the country, will spur demand for mass manufacturing added the official.

The report said that ISRO is also looking at opportunities in the private sector, where startups and large companies are looking to build rockets, satellites and ground equipment that require chipsets to improve their performance. It added that a team at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru is awaiting approval for its project to build Gallium Nitride Semiconductors. It includes building the chips and systems for applications in power electronics and radio frequency electronics used for cell phone towers in 5G applications and radars.

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