Australia’s contribution to developing the next generation of memory chip technology is about to get a boost with construction starting on a new $10 million dedicated research centre at Griffith University.
The Queensland Microtechnology Facility (QMF) is being built at Griffith’s Nathan campus in Brisbane and will become the new home for Australian research into novel memory devices including silicon carbide memory chips.
Griffith Professor and QMF Director Professor Barry Harrison said silicon carbide chips have the potential to store terabytes of information – more than 1000 times the capacity of existing silicon chips.
“Their large memory capability will eliminate the need to boot up a computer and they promise to revolutionise mobile phone and palm computer devices,” he said.
“Having a state-of-the art research facility at Griffith and employing leaders in their fields will put Australia on the world map in developing the next generation of this technology.”
Professor Harrison said silicon carbide chips – already subject to patent applications by the university and expected to generate million-dollar returns for Australia – may also have exciting applications for space and high power devices in the next decade because they are radiation resistant and can operate in temperatures above 100 degrees Celsius.
The purpose-built facility – due to open in 2006 – will house Griffith's new semi-conductor equipment which is used in the design and fabrication of silicon carbide chips. The equipment was acquired through a $3 million Smart State Research Facilities fund in 2003.
Professor Harrison said the research facility would be the only one of its kind in the world and feature multiple “clean spaces” for chip fabrication.
"Griffith University and Australia are set to benefit greatly from the QMF which will also be a major focus for postgraduate research programs, bringing some of the best minds together under the one roof," Professor Harrison said.
The QMF is a joint initiative between Griffith and the Queensland Government.