Development & Alumni Relations Office 



NASA AWARDS CONTRACT TO COMPANY FOUNDED BY QUEEN’S GRADUATE  Crescent moon against black background with, inset, picture of IceMOS Technology founder Sam Anderson

10 June 2021

NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has awarded IceMOS Technology, a company founded in 2004 by a Queen’s MSc Engineering graduate, a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project to develop radiation-tolerant high-voltage MOSFET transistors critical to the ‘Moon to Mars’ campaign.

Improvements in power semiconductor devices are critical to power supply applications required in long-term NASA space programs such as 'Moon to Mars' which aims to send humans back to the surface of the Moon – including the first woman – by 2024, and establish sustainable exploration by the end of the decade.

“This project consists of developing an enabling technology to accelerate major advances in the efficiency of a spacecraft’s power system by making improvements in high voltage power transistor radiation hardness compatible with cost-effective high-volume manufacturing processes,” said Samuel J. Anderson, IceMOS Technology founder and chairman. “The reliability requirements of hostile deep space operating environments present a unique set of challenges that we look forward to addressing with our innovative device technology.”

Back in July 1969, when Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong made history by stepping onto the Moon, Sam Anderson was one of many millions of children around the world who tuned in to the famous broadcast.

“Listeners back on Earth heard Armstrong say, ‘That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’ As a 12-year-old I remember watching this on a black and white TV at my parents’ home in Ballymena late at night.

“I think this was an inspirational event that inspired many young people to follow a career in Science, myself included.”

Before coming up to Queen’s in 1980, Sam received a BASc (Bachelor of Applied Science) in Electronics from the University of Ulster. He graduated from the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s with an MSc in Engineering/Physics/Applied Physics (1983) and later earned an MTech (Master of Technology) in Semiconductor Device Physics from Arizona State University (1990).

"My fondest memories of Queen's University include the wonderful learning environment that I shared with fellow students, and the excellent professors and teaching staff, many of whom became lifelong friends."

Established in 2004, IceMOS Technology is a best-in-class provider of cost-effective, high performance super junction MOSFETs (metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistors), MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) solutions and advanced engineering substrates that outperform competing solutions with a much simpler, lower cost process. 

The company has a manufacturing centre of excellence located in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, an advanced research innovation centre in Tempe, Arizona, and a design centre in Tokyo, Japan. 

"IceMOS Belfast is critical to everything we do!" said Sam. "It is our manufacturing centre of excellence from which we ship products to 30 countries around the world."

From Moon to Mars

NASA is soon to launch a SLS (Space Launch System) and an Orion space craft together on two flight tests around the Moon to check performance, life support, and communication capabilities. The first mission – known as Artemis I – is on track for later this year without astronauts; Artemis II will fly with crew in 2023.

The following year, 2024, will see a return to the lunar surface, with Artemis III landing the first astronauts on the South Pole, a goal which also includes sending the first woman to the Moon. The USA is going back to the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiration for a new a generation of explorers.

Wearing modern spacesuits that will allow for greater flexibility and movement than those of their Apollo predecessors, astronauts will collect samples and conduct a range of science experiments over the course of nearly seven days. Using the lander, they will return to lunar orbit before ultimately heading home to Earth aboard Orion. That concept calls for an Artemis Base Camp that would include new rovers, power systems, habitats, and more on the surface for long-term exploration of the Moon. The camp will also become a ‘test-bed’ for preparing the mission ‘From Moon to Mars’ by the end of the decade.

The SBIR is seen as the beginning of a major opportunity for IceMOS to enter into the Aerospace market on a history making programme.

Support for Queen’s

In 2019 Sam made the decision to give back to his alma mater with a generous gift through The Lin-Anderson Foundation, a philanthropic giving vehicle set up by Sam and his wife Dr Fuyu Lin. Sam and Fuyu have generously supported a number of academic institutions internationally through their increasing philanthropic work with their Foundation.

The gift is to support students completing a Master of Science in the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen’s, specifically in the Queen’s Advanced Microengineering Centre. Not only keen to give back through philanthropy, Sam is working with the University to forge further links to aid the employability of students and to help Queen’s work towards its strategic goals by fostering collaboration with other international universities that he is partnered with.

"My advice to current students and recent graduates," suggested Sam. "Education is a lifelong event so keep learning and keep helping each other."

Career

Based in Tempe, Arizona, Sam was born in Northern Ireland and has thirty years’ experience in the Power Semiconductor Industry, including two successful IPOs and two successful mergers and acquisitions. Currently the holder of over 80 U.S. patents in green and clean semiconductor technology, Sam has been the Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of IceMOS Technology Corporation, a privately-held developer and manufacturer of specialized semiconductor substrates, as well as high voltage power switching devices utilizing its proprietary technology, since 2002.

He was the Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Great Wall Semiconductor Corporation (‘GWS’), of which the Corporation was an owner of non-voting convertible preferred stock, from 2002 to September 2015, when GWS was acquired by Intersil Corporation.

He also served as non-executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of Advanced Analogic Technologies Inc. (AATI) - a supplier of power management semiconductors - from 2001 until 2011 when AATI was acquired by Skyworks Solutions, Inc.

From 1984 to 1999 Sam held various positions within the semiconductor operations of Motorola, Inc., a spinoff of which became ON Semiconductor Corporation in 1999, where he was Vice President of Corporate Business Development until December 2001. 

For more information, visit https://www.icemostech.com/ or contact Linda Capcara, Brodeur Partners, lcapcara@brodeur.com or Raymond Wiley, IceMOS Technology, raymondwiley@icemostech.com.

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit graduate news items, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen's University Belfast.

Main image of Moon by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

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