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Australia a world leader in silicon industry

Hybrid car

Irradiated silicon from ANSTO is used throughout the world in electronic components of hybrid cars. Photo credit: gmeurope

There are few high end manufacturing businesses where Australia can claim to be number one in the world, but thanks to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), silicon irradiation is one of them.
Irradiating silicon, technically known as a process called Neutron Transmutation Doping (NTD), changes electronic properties of silicon by introducing phosphorous and making it more conductive of electricity. 
Irradiated silicon from ANSTO is used throughout  the world in electronic components of hybrid cars, fast trains, renewable energy systems such as solar and wind farms, and in energy transportation to cut down energy losses and to increase device reliability and efficiency.
As of 2014, Australia is now recognised as the country which irradiates the most high quality silicon in the world - another example of nuclear science delivering high-end manufacturing solutions.
Today ANSTO is experiencing unprecedented demand for silicon irradiation services from Asian and European electronics companies, and this strong performance is expected to continue.
In 2013, ANSTO’s silicon production increased by 49.3% (from 23 to 34.5 tonnes) and world market share grew from 20.4% to 28.9%, making us the world’s primary producer. This is expected to increase further in 2014, and forecast to be over 50 tonnes in total.
“ANSTO’s expertise in applied nuclear science is world-class, and is increasingly becoming world scale,” said the Group Executive for ANSTO’s Nuclear Business, Shaun Jenkinson.
“The irradiation of silicon is an important business for ANSTO, and allows us to make a significant contribution to the high technology electronics industry.
“And when you consider our $168 million plans to help provide the world with nuclear medicine, which are now well underway, you can see a theme of Australia developing high-end manufacturing capabilities based through our nuclear research infrastructure.   
ANSTO’s ability to secure nuclear medicine supplies and contribute to world industry is enabled by the state-of-the-art OPAL research reactor. 
Opened in 2007, OPAL has quickly proven itself one of the most reliable multi-purpose research reactors in the world.