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Optoelectronics Packaging Centre, United Kingdom

Key Data

A £4.2 million facility to develop new packages for optoelectronic devices will be set up in Livingston, Scotland, in Summer 2003. The center is managed by Scottish Enterprise and is being developed together with the Scottish Optoelectronics Association. It aims to close the gap between design and manufacturing qualification of optoelectronics based devices.

The facility will help accelerate optoelectronic development of components for equipment like TVs, CD players, fibre optic communications, bar code scanners, digital cameras and mobile telephones. A special focus will be interfacing and connecting to external networks via optical fibre and electronic connections. The facility will provide commercial services to existing and start up companies. It should help reduce cut development cycle times, along with the associated manufacturing costs.


As Britain's first optoelectronics packaging centre, the Livingston facility will accelerate commercialisation of research into packaging complex optoelectronic chips. The centre will be housed in an existing Livingston facility that has yet to be identified. There is a fair choice in the area, with many of the world's leading electronics corporations having located their R&D activities in Scotland. They include Alcatel Optronics, STMicroelectronics, Thales Optronics and Polaroid.

The Centre is expected to have five photonic development labs. Alongside qualification and analysis laboratories, shared packaging facility will handle generic processes like die attach, wire bond, sawing and pick and place. It will also provide environmental test, reliability and qualification services.

Future oriented technologies will also be researched, like bio chips for diagnosing illnesses and managing their treatment. Optoelectronics is also expanding into fields like displays, transport, environmental monitoring, computers and construction.

The initiative has been welcomed by universities involved in optoelectronics. With six universities involved in leading edge work, Scotland has the largest concentration of optoelectronics research in the UK. Scottish startups include CST (III-V devices), MicroEmissive Displays (organic LED displays), Terahertz Photonics (planar light wave circuits), Crystal Consortium (single crystal materials and growth) and Edinburgh Instruments (lasers, diode pumped lasers and computer automated luminescence spectrometers).


Co-developing the site is the Scottish Optoelectronics Association. Launched in October 1994, the SOA now includes 85 plus organizations including companies, universities and research organizations. The project itself is being managed by Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian from a concept developed by the Microelectronics, Optoelectronics and Communications Technology (MOCT) cluster.

Funding has come from both European Regional Development Fund and Scottish Enterprise, with an aim of helping create and support high growth start up companies in the region. Scottish Enterprise is the main economic development agency for Scotland. Along with 12 Local Enterprise Companies, it makes up the Scottish Enterprise Network.


Optoelectronics is one of the most exciting and fastest growing of the electronics sectors, and is predicted to grow to more than $100 billion by 2010. The facility aims to make up some of the shortfall from a wider lack of corporate R&D, which has been highlighted as a major contributing factor to shortfalls in productivity and competitiveness. To counter this, the Scottish Executive is spending £450 million over the next ten years on three Intermediary Technology Institutes. Alongside existing links with the display and communications sectors, the Institutes will focus particularly on optoelectronics' convergence with biotech and energy efficiency.

The Institutes aim to turn more university research into businesses and create thousands of skilled jobs. A centre in Glasgow will research Communications Technology and Digital Media, while the other two centres in Aberdeen and Dundee will look at energy and life sciences. Research at the Technology Institutes will be commissioned in the relevant university, company or research facility.