In the heart of the Etna Valley, a new infrastructure for advanced microelectronics will be established to develop prototypes of devices needed for innovative applications in electric mobility and telecommunications. This initiative, presented by the National Research Council (Cnr), is part of the projects approved today by the Governing Board of the Chips Joint Undertaking (Chips JU), an international program established under the Chips Act. This legislative package was approved by the European Commission last September to encourage and support semiconductor production at the European level.

The project aims to create an enabling infrastructure for the microelectronics industry, with a focus on the Catania area. This endeavor became feasible due to continuous investments by the Cnr in microelectronics and microsystems, enabling the critical mass required to develop significant opportunities for economic and technological advancement in the country. The project aligns with the growing demand for semiconductors globally and specifically within the technology industry, prompting the creation of the Chips Act, which allocated 43 billion euros to double European chip production by 2030 and enhance self-sufficiency for EU Member States.

The approved infrastructure is categorized within the Pilot Lines of the Chips JU program, crucial for advancing Europe in critical and high-impact microelectronics sectors. This includes the development of an integrated system for wide bandgap semiconductor technologies for power electronics and radio frequency, to be executed by the approved Pilot Line. Strengthening existing structures in advanced semiconductors and related technologies will be crucial. Italy's contribution, the "Beyond Nano" initiative started in 2020, through collaboration between Cnr, the Ministry of University and Research (MUR), the Sicilian Region, and STMicroelectronics. Additionally, infrastructures in other European countries will engage universities and research centers to advance in line with various microelectronic technologies.

Italian partners besides Cnr include the Bruno Kessler Foundation, the Italian Center for Semiconductor Integrated Circuit Design Foundation (Chips-it), and the National Interuniversity Consortium for Nanoelectronics (IUNET). The initiative received strong support from the Ministry of Enterprises and Made in Italy (MIMIT), MUR, Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), as well as the Sicilian Region and the City of Catania.

The project's total cost is 360 million euros, divided equally between EU funds and those provided by participating states. Italy is set to receive the largest share of funding, totaling 212 million euros, with approximately 190 million earmarked for Cnr's pilot line through the expertise of the Institute of Microelectronics and Microsystems (Cnr-Imm).

This project represents a decade-long effort to streamline innovation in semiconductors, bridging basic research expertise to emerging technologies. The infrastructure will support the regional and national industrial sectors, empowering small and medium-sized enterprises in microelectronics to innovate efficiently, thereby enhancing their production capabilities and competitiveness.

The "Chips JU" program, with its international collaboration and substantial funding, aims to advance advanced transistors, low-power processors, and quantum chips. This initiative will introduce further financial support and incentives to boost innovation and production capabilities within the EU, with Italy being at the forefront in enhancing its microelectronics strategy, particularly in semiconductor development, demonstrating its commitment to the European Chips Act.