‘A real kick in the teeth’: Newport reacts to semiconductor decision

UK government blocked new Chinese ownership on security grounds, but Nexperia bosses ‘planned to build two new plants’

The clean room in Newport, south Wales, is the size of a football field, but in the industry they call it a ballroom. Workers in full bodysuits move silicon wafers from one end to another in a series of careful steps. The 20cm slices of silicon are rigorously cleaned in chemical baths before light is used to draw precise patterns that are then etched out. It all takes place in an orange gloom to prevent light-sensitive chemicals from reacting.

After robots and people test for defects, the owner Nexperia ships thousands of wafers every week to its other plants in Asia to be cut into hundreds or even thousands of pieces. Those in turn will be shipped all over the world for use in circuit boards controlling the power flow to devices from vacuum cleaners to Jaguar Land Rover cars.

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