India to make micron chips for space systems, reactors

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Bangalore, Feb 2 : India is developing advanced micron chips for extensive use in space applications and atomic reactors, a senior scientist said Monday.

“We have developed 0.18 micron chips at the Semiconductor Complex Ltd (SCL) in Chandigarh for space applications such as gyroscopes and navigation systems. The chips can also be used in the electronic systems and controls at nuclear reactors,” former Indian space agency chairman G. Madhavan Nair told reporters here.

The 0.18 micron (one millionth of a metre) chips are an advanced version of 0.85 micron chips that were developed and manufactured by the state-run SCL and industry players under technology transfer.

“We have signed contracts with some manufacturing firms to produce these memory chips of 0.18 micron. Once they are ready, they will replace the existing chips of 0.85 micron. Nair said after inaugurating the Indian Semiconductor Association (ISA) summit.

The state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) still use the indigenous 0.3 micron chips in their respective electronic systems.

“Though the trend in advanced countries has been to use 64-bit or 40-bit nanometre (one billionth of a metre) chips in high-end technologies, we can still manage with earlier versions of 0.3 micron,” Nair said on the margins of the event.

Earlier, Nair told about 200 delegates participating in the two-day summit that India had achieved a great degree of self-reliance in space, atomic energy, defence, IT (information technology) and biotechnology.

“In space programmes, chip-based electronic systems and components are used in satellites, rocket launches and remote or ground-based operations. The successful launch of our maiden lunar mission (Chandrayaan-1) and achieving its objectives are evident of maturity and self-reliance in high-end technologies,” he said.

Noting that denial of technologies by the developed countries for dual use purposes was a blessing in disguise, Nair said such denials gave a fillip to indigenisation and self reliance in core activities.

Advocating a public-private partnership (PPP) between academia, industry and state-run research and develop (R and D) institutions for developing advanced chips, he said the potential to tap solar energy and wind energy was immense.

“For instance, nano materials can be used to improve the efficiency of photovoltaic cells and generate hydrogen as a fuel from water through chemical process. Though expensive upfront, more research has to be done to reduce the cost of energy through renewable sources,” Nair added.

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