Semiconductors

Semiconductors

News: The government on Friday said that the first Made-in-India semiconductor chips are expected to be rolled out by December 2024.

Background:
• American Micron company will invest $2.75 Billion semiconductor assembly and test facility in India.
• Around 60,000 Indian engineers will be trained by Lam research.
• Overall investments are expected to generate 80,000 jobs in the semiconductor industry.

What are semiconductors?
• A semiconductor is a material that has a conductivity between that of an insulator and that of a conductor. In simple words, they are building blocks of all electronic devices.
• Some examples of semiconductors are silicon, germanium, gallium arsenide, and tin. Silicon is the most widely used semiconductor material because of its abundance, low cost, and favourable electrical properties.

What are the applications of semiconductors?
Semiconductors are an essential component of electronic devices, enabling advances in communications, computing, healthcare, military systems, transportation, clean energy, and countless other applications.
• Consumer electronics – Mobile phones, laptops, microwaves, refrigerator.
• Solar technology - Solar cells or photovoltaic cells are made of semiconductor materials such as silicon or gallium arsenide that convert sunlight into electricity.
• Biomedical engineering - Semiconductor devices such as biosensors, microfluidic chips, and implantable devices are used for monitoring, diagnosing, and treating various medical conditions.
• Automotive industry - Semiconductor devices such as microcontrollers, sensors, power modules, and radar systems are used for enhancing the performance, safety, and efficiency of vehicles. They have applications in engine control, anti-lock braking systems, airbags, navigation systems, and autonomous driving.
• Aerospace and defense - Semiconductor devices such as microprocessors, memory chips, radio-frequency modules, and infrared detectors are used for enabling various functions of aircrafts, satellites, rockets, missiles, and radars.

What are challenges in semiconductor manufacturing faced by India?
• High capital investment - Semiconductor manufacturing requires huge investments in setting up and maintaining state-of-the-art fabrication units (fabs) and equipment. The cost of building a fab can range from $5 billion to $20 billion, depending on the technology and capacity.
• Lack of infrastructure - Semiconductor manufacturing requires reliable and uninterrupted supply of power, water, gas, and chemicals, as well as efficient transport and logistics systems. India suffers from frequent power outages, water scarcity, poor road connectivity, and customs delays that can hamper the smooth operation of fabs.
• Lack of skilled manpower – India has shortage of talent in domains such as design, fabrication, testing and quality control.
• Lack of ecosystem - Semiconductor manufacturing depends on a vibrant ecosystem of suppliers, vendors, customers, research institutions, and industry associations that can support the entire value chain from design to delivery. India lacks such an ecosystem and has to rely on imports for most of the raw materials, equipment, components, and services required for semiconductor production.
• Competition faced from Global hubs of semiconductor manufacturing (China, Taiwan, South Korea) and lack of large and stable domestic demand to ensure economies of scale.

What are initiatives taken by Government of India in this context?
• The Government of India has recently launched the Semicon India Program (Program for Development of Semiconductors and Display Manufacturing Ecosystem in India), with an outlay of INR 760 billion.
• The Design Linked Incentive (DLI) scheme for promoting domestic chip design and innovation in the semiconductor sector.
• In order to drive the long-term strategies for developing a sustainable semiconductors and display ecosystem, a specialized and independent India Semiconductor Mission (ISM) has been set up. The mission will be led by global experts in semiconductor and display industry and will integrate different stakeholders in the country.
• India has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Taiwan for cooperation in electronics and IT sectors, including semiconductor manufacturing.
• Recent agreements made in United states on PM Modi’s official state visit. 

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