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PRIME Conference 2022

Old Members’ Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Fund Report – William Matthews (2019, DPhil Engineering Science)

The PRIME 2022 Conference was held at the VOI Tanka Village resort in Sardinia, Italy. The PRIME Conference is specifically aimed at PhD candidates and recent PhD graduates to showcase their research in semiconductor research and design. A simultaneous conference was held at the venue, named SMACD, which while still in the vein of semiconductor research, was more focused on simulation and software methods.

The conference was structured into four days. The first day featured multiple all-day pre-conference seminars, and welcome talks. The remaining three days ran with four parallel sessions, with presentations all day. On each day, there were multiple keynote sessions showing some of the cutting-edge research and technology from the conference’s sponsors.

There was a networking reception on the first day, and networking breaks in the exhibit room throughout the entirety of the conference. A gala dinner was provided on the third day of the conference, which allowed further opportunity to network and interact with some of the exhibitors and keynote speakers in a relaxed atmosphere.

My research is focused on using single photon avalanche diodes in communications, and there was an entire session dedicated to uses of these devices as well as design and optimisation studies. This really appealed to me, as I often struggle to meet people in this field working on practical devices outside of my (relatively small) research group.

The networking opportunities also appealed to me, as well as the opportunity to learn from some of the cutting-edge research in fields adjacent to mine. I found the networking extremely valuable, and I am proud to say I made some friends at the conference who are excited by, and discussed ideas related to my research.

During the conference, I was able to attend a lot of sessions. I was able to focus on topics that directly relate to my research focus (SPAD based circuits), but also venture more broadly to examine topics that interested me. I strongly enjoyed talking to people who work on SPAD based circuits, as despite different applications between us, we all experienced similar challenges and had different ideas on how we would solve them.

A session I particularly enjoyed was on optical devices, where there were many interesting talks providing ingenious solutions to difficult problems that are related to my field.

While at PRIME 2022, I made a useful contact with a semiconductor manufacturer, who hold a claim to inventing the device that is the crux of my research. I really enjoyed the exchange of ideas, and the discussion of what the future of the field will look like.

I also enjoyed the gala dinner, where I was able to talk to members of industry who offered a lot of insight into practically applying my research, while being able to enjoy Sardinian cuisine.

I was very pleased with my conference attendance and felt it was worth the registration fee and travel expenses. Furthermore, I gained exposure to novel research, and I believe my view of my topic improved as a result. It is very easy to become tunnel-visioned on a specific application of my research when working day to day on my project, and seeing different, fascinating applications of my and similar devices was truly a thrill. I learned new solutions for difficult problems, and gained exposure to some of the more niche fields inside semiconductor research.

I believe that this conference gave me valuable insight into the bigger picture of what it means to be a researcher.

Despite attending two virtual conferences before, in person attendance allowed a much more fluid exchange of ideas, and the opportunity to meet people who I am still in contact with.
The networking experience provided by an in-person conference was extremely beneficial, and it was refreshing to talk to industry-experts who provided useful tips and information for particular problems that arise in my research.

The conference was very well-organised, and the industry talks provided a reassuringly candid opinions of the subject matter at hand, making the industry talks extremely valuable.

The exhibit room provided a friendly environment where everybody was enthusiastic to show off their latest device, and talk in a deep technical manner.

In addition, the food and beverage breaks were a relaxed, friendly atmosphere which allowed me to save on my travel budget. I am grateful to the Old Members’ Fund who funded a portion of the expenses, and I hope that I am able to attend more conferences throughout my life.

I strongly recommend the PRIME conference for anybody in the field of semiconductor device design, layout, or wider research in the field.

Find out more about the range of travel grants and scholarships available to assist Univ students on our Travel Grants page or read further travel reports.

Published: 21 March 2023

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