The 36th Annual Symposium of the Institute of Circuit Technology (ICT) was held June 15, 2010 at the National Motorcycle Museum near Birmingham, England. ICT Chairman, Professor Martin Goosey, welcomed a full house of delegates and was pleased to report that the Institutes's membership numbers continued to increase and that the ICT had been appointed project coordinator of the European Framework 7 ASPIS project on solderable finishes, which was currently at the contract negotiation stage.
As a prelude to the symposium programme, Professor Goosey briefly reviewed some emerging technologies and their implications for circuitry and interconnect. Interconnection was driven by device technology, and semiconductors, already at the 32-nanometre node, were expected move toward the 22-nanometre node during 2011-2012. Intel had already developed a 64Gb multilevel cell NAND flash device at 25 nanometres that represented a data-per-unit-area utilisation of 0.00138 square microns per bit. Could the trend continue? It was clear that the PCB and interconnection industry would continue to face challenges to provide interconnects for increasingly complex devices and their packages, and that the PCB would increasingly become integrated a functional component of electronic devices. Professor Goosey introduced a programme of six presentations, all topical and relevant to the "new and emerging technologies" symposium theme.
The first two presentations each focused on photovoltaic technologies, and Tony Ridler from Dow Chemical began his photovoltaics overview by quoting a forecast that the world annual electricity demand would likely double by 2030 to 3 terawatt hours. Solar energy presently represented only 0.3% of world electricity generation capacity but hypothetically had the potential to fulfil the global demand more than 8000 times over. With reference to the social, political, environmental and economic drivers for photovoltaic power generation, he observed that cost per watt peak was the overriding issue, and examined the various existing technologies for the manufacture of solar cells.
Two principal technologies were evident: Crystalline silicon and thin film. Thin film was rapidly evolving, particularly in China, India and Taiwan, and was typically based on glass with vapour-deposited copper-indium diselenide, each panel becoming in effect a single solar cell. But whilst research continued on different thin-film approaches, the world photovoltaics market remained dominated by crystalline silicon wafer-based technology, even though costs of materials, specifically silicon and silver, were significantly higher than for thin film. A typical 80-metre production line had a annual capacity of 15 million wafers, equivalent to 45 megawatts. Ongoing development objectives were to increase the conversion efficiencies of solar cells in terms of watts per unit area, whilst reducing material costs per watt and improving manufacturing yields.