Empowering Canada’s future: Why compound semiconductors matter to Canadians

- Ottawa, Ontario

In today’s digital age, we consume significantly more bandwidth and process more information much faster than ever before. Behind this technological progress lies a crucial component: compound semiconductors. These tiny but mighty components play a critical role in driving innovation across various industries, from telecommunications to high-performance computing, AI and automotive. They are at the core of many applications that touch all aspects of Canadians’ daily lives—from health care, transportation and telecommunications to defence and the environment, contributing to Canada’s economy, competitiveness, security and quality of life.

"Compound semiconductors are at the forefront of our digital revolution, and the CPFC is Canada’s cornerstone for compound semiconductor innovation. Through collaborative partnerships, we are not only advancing technology but also fuelling economic growth by commercializing cutting-edge solutions."

Michael Davison, Director of Business Development, Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre

But why are compound semiconductors so important? Compound semiconductors contain a blend of elements that offer superior performance. So, unlike traditional silicon-based chips, they can transport data faster, emit and sense light and even resist heat and radiation. This versatility makes them essential for cutting-edge technologies like 5G and 6G networks, autonomous vehicles and quantum computing.

This is where the National Research Council of Canada’s Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre (CPFC) plays a significant role. The centre is a semiconductor fabrication facility that produces unique photonic components. These components generate, modulate, amplify and receive high-speed optical signals over fibre optic networks and are crucial for high-speed data transmission in data centres. For over 20 years, the fabrication centre has been at Canada’s forefront of innovation, supporting both research and the private sector.

Every silicon microchip contains millions of transistors, which act as switches to process data. But for the next generation of chips, compound semiconductors are the perfect match for complementing silicon’s computing power. They offer faster movement of data, consume less energy and have a host of other properties that pave the way for more efficient and powerful electronic and photonic products.

Furthermore, compound semiconductors contribute to sustainable solutions. With lower energy consumption and operating costs, they help drive the development of green technologies. This means not only more technological advancements but also greater environmental responsibility.

The CPFC serves as a valuable resource for developers by providing fabrication services for both commercial and research ventures. Collaborating with a growing network of companies in Canada and internationally as well as with academia, the centre fosters innovation in sectors ranging from environmental sensing and aerospace to telecommunications and automotive.

Investing in compound semiconductors, both at the Government of Canada and in the private sector, will help expand the integrated value chain. This will better meet the growing semiconductor needs of Canadian businesses and lead to greater economic security and growth.

Contact us

Media Relations, National Research Council of Canada
1-855-282-1637 (toll‑free in Canada only)
1-613-991-1431 (elsewhere in North America)
001-613-991-1431 (international)
Follow us on X: @NRC_CNRC