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Last Updated: Friday, 18 August 2006, 05:48 GMT 06:48 UK
University develops 'smart' chips
Microchip held in tweezers
The microchips could reduce energy use in a range of products
Scientists at Swansea University have been awarded a 1m grant to develop microchips which could "radically reduce" energy consumption.

The new microchips could be used in personal computers, mobile phones and in domestic white goods.

The Swansea University team will work with the UK's two largest semiconductor companies - Zetex and X-Fab.

The university said "smart chip" technology could save 211bn ($400bn) annually in electric costs world-wide.

The research team at Swansea University's Electronics Systems Design Centre were awarded the funding by the Department of Trade and Industry.

The commercial potential is massive
Petar Igic, Swansea University

The grant followed a three-year industrial research project, funded by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Petar Igic, director of the Swansea centre, said energy management in areas such as PC power supplies, domestic white goods, mobile telecommunications and the automotive and aerospace industries could deliver reductions in energy wastage.

"The technology has the capacity to make a significant impact on sustainability issues in the field of engineering," said Dr Igic.

"The commercial potential is massive.

"For example, the production of a single chip motor drive with efficient speed control used in white goods such as washing machines, would on its own save 20% of current energy usage per house."

'Knowledge-based economy'

Welsh Enterprise Minister Andrew Davies said research such as the microchip project was increasingly important to the Welsh economy.

He said: "The assembly government is actively assisting collaboration between industry and academia to further increase the research and development capacity of Wales.

"It is a key element in the development of a sustainable knowledge-based economy.

"Swansea University's success is gaining this additional funding is a tremendous achievement and will further raise the profile of the expertise within Welsh academic institutions."

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