HIDRA Vision wafer imaging technology to join UK incubator programme

A wafer imaging technology that could save the semiconductor industry millions of pounds is to receive support from ChipStart UK, an incubator programme set up by Silicon Catalyst.UK.


Developed at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the so-called HIDRA Vision is a new patent-pending semiconductor wafer imaging technique claimed to tackle yield limitation in compound semiconductor manufacturing. According to NPL, the wafer imaging technology captures high-resolution images, with approximately two million points on the wafer, in a few minutes rather than hours or days with traditional systems.

HIDRA also captures detailed high-dimensional information that enables correct identification of defects. HIDRA Vision could help realise significant cost savings as it is able to quickly measure whole semiconductor wafers compared to traditional methods that are slow and can miss material defects.

In a statement, Dr Yameng Cao, NPL Senior Scientist and HIDRA Vision CTO, said, "The Silicon Catalyst is world-renowned for its success in incubating new semiconductor related businesses and we can’t wait to start the programme and work with the mentors and advisors and take part in the training. We believe this will really help us accelerate our business growth.”

HIDRA Vision has previously been supported by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT)’s Government Office for Technology Transfer (GOTT) through two Knowledge Assets Grant Fund grants. The first grant enabled NPL to carry out a market study, while the second enabled NPL to build and test a full-scale prototype in a range of applications.

ChipStart UK is a nine-month semiconductor incubator programme that supports twelve UK semiconductor innovations or start-ups with the potential to make a significant impact on the global semiconductor industry.

The next generation of semiconductors will rely on new materials and processes, inviting a wave of renewed global competition. Compound semiconductors are a particular strength in the UK and have received backing as part of the government’s National Semiconductor Strategy. In May 2023, the government said it will support the growth of the compound semiconductors sector by investing up to £200m between 2023-25 to improve industry access to infrastructure, deliver more R&D, and to facilitate greater international cooperation.

NPL said HIDRA Vision will support quality control in this important supply chain and help the UK’s compound semiconductor industry compete internationally.