Winners 2015

Substrates & Materials Award

As devices become smaller size and require higher reliability in the presence of extreme power densities, new solutions are needed. Nowhere is this more evident than with the transition to wide-bandgap Gallium Nitride (GaN) transistors, where engineers have struggled with the thermal barriers limiting the ability to achieving the intrinsic performance potential of GaN semiconductor devices.

Element Six, a pioneer in synthetic diamond supermaterials, has developed, over 10 years, Gallium Nitride (GaN)-on-Diamond semiconductor wafer technology—the first-of-its-kind to be developed and commercially available. In the approach, the GaN epitaxy is transferred to diamond by first removing the host Si and transition layers beneath the AlGaN/GaN epitaxy, depositing a 35 nm dielectric onto the exposed AlGaN/GaN, and finally growing a 100 micron thick CVD diamond onto the dielectric adhered to the epitaxial AlGaN/GaN. The resulting 100 mm GaN-on-Diamond composite wafer offers a cost-effective and efficient thermal management solution for GaN radio frequency (RF) semiconductor devices, enabling the intrinsic power performance capability of GaN devices. 

Currently, Silicon Carbide (SiC) is the most commonly used semiconductor substrate for RF GaN devices. However, the diamond in GaN-on-diamond wafers has a thermal conductivity of 1600 W/mK, which is four times that of SiC. Rigorous test results by Raytheon Company revealed it achieved a three times improvement in GaN-on-Diamond’s RF areal power density, compared to GaN-on-SiC devices. The GaN-on-Diamond devices also demonstrated more than 40 percent reduction in thermal resistance. Additional beta customers include Air Force Research Lab (ARFL) and Triquint Semiconductor, which was a recipient of the 2013 CS Industry Award for its GaN-on-Diamond achievements through DARPA’s NJTT program.

GaN-on-Diamond substrates enable a significant reduction in the ambient to device-junction temperature rise for packaged devices. With GaN-on-Diamond substrates, device manufacturers can produce semiconductors higher power density and/or with longer lifespans due to the reduction in temperature rise and system manufacturers can lower the costs of cooling subsystems.

Consumer, industrial, and military demands are constantly pushing for electronic devices that are smaller and more powerful with increased life times. However, as device size shrinks, there is less area for heat to dissipate. As a result, heat is the cause of more than half of all electronic failures. Transistor engineers have struggled for years to surpass the thermal barriers that stand in the way of achieving the intrinsic performance potential of GaN semiconductor devices. Element Six’s chemical vapor disposition (CVD) diamond thermal management solution holds the potential to enable the next generation of high power RF and high voltage devices.  GaN-on-Diamond substrates bring diamond within less than a micron of the gate-junctions where all the heat is generated, and does so with a minimal thermal barrier resistance between the GaN epi and diamond. This enables more than a three times increase in areal power density, compared to GaN on SiC, to enable more power in a military radar system, for instance. GaN-on-Diamond’s ability to operate at ambient temperatures more than 40 percent higher than GaN/SiC devices results in costs savings from smaller cooling subsystems and less energy use.

Critical to Element Six’s GaN-on-Diamond technology is the diamond synthesis that leverages its proprietary microwave CVD process. The diamond synthesis recipe must optimize the diamond’s thermal conductivity while not damaging the GaN epi. In addition, the interface layer between diamond and GaN buffer must minimize thermal barrier resistance while handling CTE mismatches and preventing leakage.  And finally, wafer bow and thickness variation must be minimized. Through its microwave CVD synthesis, Element Six is able to tightly control growth conditions to meet all of these challenges. In addition, the development team, over the space of 10 years, had to carefully engineer all of the process steps, and particularly the interface layer between diamond and GaN buffer, to obtain the highest power density and lowest thermal resistance possible.


GaN-on-Diamond substrates bring diamond within less than a micron of the gate-junctions where all the heat is generated and does so with a minimal thermal barrier resistance between the GaN epi and diamond. This enables more than a three times increase in areal power density compared to GaN on SiC to enable more power.

Richard Stevenson, editor of Compound Semiconductor comments:
"It's great to see that the upper limit for GaN transistor performance is extending, thanks to the introduction of a high-quality diamond layer."

 

Device Design and Packaging Award

Cree has shattered the on-resistance barrier of traditional 1200V MOSFET technology by introducing the industry’s first commercially available silicon carbide (SiC 1200V MOSFET with an RDS(ON of 25mΩ in an industry standard TO-247-3 package. The new MOSFET designated the C2M0025120D is expected to be widely adopted in PV inverters high voltage DC/DC converters induction heating systems EV charging systems and medical CT applications.

Based on Cree’s proven C2M SiC MOSFET technology the new device has a pulsed current rating (IDS Pulse of 250A and a positive temperature coefficient providing engineers with greater design flexibility to explore new design concepts. The high IDS Pulse rating makes the device suitable for pulsed power applications and the positive temperature coefficient allows the devices to be paralleled to achieve even higher power levels.

The higher switching frequency of the new C2M0025120D SiC MOSFET enables power electronics design engineers to reduce the size weight cost and complexity of power systems. For medical applications such as CT systems Cree’s C2M MOSFETs provide a 5X reduction in switching losses and enable much higher power density. Combined with the lower switching losses the added benefit of low RDS(ON greatly improves the thermal characteristics and can potentially even eliminate system fans resulting in quieter and more cost effective medical imaging systems.

Cree has also demonstrated that by implementing the C2M0025120D in a PV string-inverter it is possible to develop a highly efficient and compact 50kW grid-tied solar inverter with a power to weight ratio of 1kW/kg. This results in a string inverter that is significantly more efficient and half the weight and size of the state-of-the-art commercial 50kW systems available today. Additionally for rooftop PV inverters the smaller size and lighter weight greatly reduce the installation costs.

Crees C2M0025120D provides greater design flexibility in PV inverters high voltage DC/DC converters induction heating systems EV charging systems and medical CT applications enables the reductions of the size weight cost and complexity of these power systems and due to the combination of lower switching losses and a low 25mΩ RDS(ON greatly improves the thermal characteristics and can potentially even eliminate system fans resulting in quieter and more cost effective systems.

Crees C2M0025120D SiC MOSFET has an IDS Pulse of 250A and a positive temperature coefficient which allows the devices to be paralleled to achieve even higher power levels. The higher switching frequency (and up to 5x lower switching losses of the device enables power electronics engineers to reduce the size weight cost and complexity of power systems. Combined with the lower switching losses the added benefit of the low 25mΩ RDS (ON greatly improves the thermal characteristics and can potentially even eliminate system fans resulting in quieter and more cost effective systems.

Cree shattered the on-resistance barrier of traditional 1200V MOSFET technology by introducing the industry’s first commercially available silicon carbide (SiC 1200V MOSFET with an RDS(ON of 25mΩ in an industry standard TO-247-3 package.


Cree has shattered the on-resistance barrier of traditional 1200V MOSFET technology by introducing the industry’s first commercially available silicon carbide transistor with an on-resistance of 25 mΩ in an industry standard package.

Richard Stevenson, editor of Compound Semiconductor comments:

"Cree is the pioneer of the SiC MOSFET, and this latest device should help to drive a revolution in power electronics"

 

Metrology, Test and Measurement Award

With growing performance requirements in compound semiconductor based power devices, leading device manufacturers are looking for improved ways to characterize yield-limiting defects that will help them achieve faster development and ramp times, higher product yields and lower device costs.

Full-surface, high sensitivity defect inspection and accurate process feedback has enabled the industry to improve SiC substrate quality as well as optimize the epitaxial growth yields on both SiC epi and GaN-on-silicon processes.

As device makers continue to push the boundaries of process designs, the requirements for defect inspection and overall yield management become increasingly more stringent and critical. The Candela CS920 offers the latest inspection technology for power device manufacturing. By integrating, for the first time, surface defect detection and Photoluminescence technology into a unified platform, the Candela CS920 enables high sensitivity inspection and defect classification at production throughputs for a wide range of critical defects (e.g. microscratches, stacking faults, basal plane dislocations) and effectively separates front-surface defects and buried defects on transparent substrates and epitaxial material. In addition, the CS920’s automated defect classification capabilities reduce the time required to identify, source and correct various yield-limiting defects such as carrots, triangles, sub-micron pits and others.

With expanding applications (hybrid/electric vehicles, inverters, wind power, high-speed trains, etc.), Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN) “wide bandgap” power device manufacturers require advanced inspection technologies that help cost-effectively ramp production. With advantages over traditional silicon-based power devices for high-voltage applications, and improving wafer defectivity and cost, SiC epi technologies are becoming the driving growth material in the power device segment. A key challenge for inspection of SiC substrate/SiC epi is that they are typically transparent to visible light. The Candela CS920’s design solves this challenge by leveraging SiC absorption in the ultra-violet regime – providing excellent sensitivity to micro-scratches/micro-pits, and enabling photoluminescence contrast on otherwise invisible epi layer defects.

The Candela CS920 technology provides a comprehensive solution – integrating simultaneous industry-proven Candela OSA (Optical Surface Analyzer) technology (reflectometry, optical profilometry, scatterometry and phase-shift interferometry) with a newly-developed Photoluminescence measurement channel. Using the multiple channels the Candela CS920 captures not only the yield-impacting surface defects and buried defects, but also the yield-impacting crystal defects which are invisible using visible light illumination.

KLA-Tencor is the only company to integrate the micro defect detection for surface and buried defects and photoluminescence defects on one unified inspection platform.


By integrating, for the first time, surface defect detection and photoluminescence technology into a unified platform, the Candela CS920 enables high sensitivity inspection and defect classification at production throughputs for a wide range of critical defects.

Richard Stevenson, editor of Compound Semiconductor comments:

"The 920 has taken the surface inspection of SiC to a new level. Engineers using this tool now have a better idea than ever of the type of defects that they are dealing with."

 

R&D Chip Development Award

Accomplishments in Terahertz Electronics program could pave way for new areas of research and unforeseen applications in the sub-millimetre wave spectrum.

Last year officials from Guinness World Records recognized DARPA’s Terahertz Electronics program for creating the fastest solid-state amplifier integrated circuit ever measured.

The ten-stage common-source amplifier operates at a speed of one terahertz (1012 GHz), or one trillion cycles per second—150 billion cycles faster than the existing world record of 850 gigahertz set in 2012.

Terahertz circuits promise to open up new areas of research and unforeseen applications in the sub-millimetre-wave spectrum, in addition to bringing unprecedented performance to circuits operating at more conventional frequencies. This breakthrough could lead to revolutionary technologies such as high-resolution security imaging systems, improved collision-avoidance radar, and communications networks with many times the capacity of current systems and spectrometers that could detect potentially dangerous chemicals and explosives with much greater sensitivity.

Developed by Northrop Grumman Corporation, the Terahertz Monolithic Integrated Circuit (TMIC) exhibits power gains several orders of magnitude beyond the current state of the art. Gain, which is measured logarithmically in decibels, similar to how earthquake intensity is measured on the Richter scale, describes the ability of an amplifier to increase the power of a signal from the input to the output. The Northrop Grumman TMIC showed a measured gain of nine decibels at 1.0 terahertz and 10 decibels at 1.03 terahertz. By contrast, current smartphone technology operates at one to two gigahertz and wireless networks at 5.7 gigahertz.

Gains of six decibels or more start to move this research from the laboratory bench to practical applications—nine decibels of gain is unheard of at terahertz frequencies. This could open up new possibilities for building terahertz radio circuits.”

For years, researchers have been looking to exploit the tremendously high-frequency band beginning above 300 gigahertz where the wavelengths are less than one millimetre. The terahertz level has proven to be somewhat elusive though due to a lack of effective means to generate, detect, process and radiate the necessary high-frequency signals.

Current electronics using solid-state technologies have largely been unable to access the sub-millimetre band of the electromagnetic spectrum due to insufficient transistor performance. To address the “terahertz gap,” engineers have traditionally used frequency conversion—converting alternating current at one frequency to alternating current at another frequency—to multiply circuit operating frequencies up from millimetre-wave frequencies. This approach, however, restricts the output power of electrical devices and adversely affects signal-to-noise ratio. Frequency conversion also increases device size, weight and power supply requirements.

DARPA has made a series of strategic investments in terahertz electronics through its HiFIVE, SWIFT and TFAST programs. Each program built on the successes of the previous one, providing the foundational research necessary for frequencies to reach the terahertz threshold.


DARPA has made a series of strategic investments in terahertz electronics through its HiFIVE, SWIFT and TFAST programs. Each program built on the successes of the previous one, providing the foundational research necessary for frequencies to reach the terahertz threshold.

Richard Stevenson, editor of Compound Semiconductor comments:

"The record-breaking results are impressive, but that will only be part of the success story - these developments will also deliver improvements in chip performance at lower frequencies."

 

Innovation Award

Veecos TurboDisc EPIK700 metal Organic Chemical Vapor Deposition (MOCVD Gallium Nitride (GaN System combines the industry’s highest productivity and best-in-class yields with low cost of operation further enabling lower manufacturing costs for light emitting diodes (LEDs for general lighting applications. Available in one-and two-reactor configurations EPIK700 features breakthrough technologies to drive higher yields in a tighter bin. EPIK700 offers a 2.5x throughput advantage over other systems due to its large reactor size.  Designed for mass production EPIK700 accommodates 31x4” 12x6” and 6x8” wafer carrier sizes.  Customers can easily transfer processes from existing TurboDisc systems to the new EPIK700 MOCVD platform for quick-start production of high quality LEDs.  Because of the flexible EPIK700 MOCVD platform more upgrades added benefits and future enhancements will continue to differentiate this world-class system.

LED manufacturers are under pressure to lower manufacturing costs while adding MOCVD system capacity to meet growing consumer demand.  Therefore they need high productivity high yield and reliable MOCVD systems.  By combining the advanced TurboDisc reactor design with excellent uniformity higher productivity proven automation low consumable costs and improved footprint efficiency The EPIK700 significantly improves the cost per wafer for our customers.

Based on Veeco’s proven TurboDisc technology the EPIK700 MOCVD system enables customers to achieve a cost per wafer savings of up to 20 percent compared to previous generations through improved wafer uniformity reduced operating expenses and increased productivity.  The EPIK700 system features a reactor with more than twice the capacity of current generation reactors.  This increased volume combined with productivity advancements within the reactor results in a 2.5x throughput advantage over previous generation MOCVD systems.

Veeco is the first company to introduce a reactor size that is significantly larger than the previous industry standard.  The large reactor size coupled with technological advancements enable our customers to obtain the highest throughput and the lowest cost of ownership - key metrics in accelerating adoption of solid-state lighting.  EPIK700 features breakthrough technologies including the new IsoFlange center injection flow and TruHeat wafer coil that provide homogeneous laminar flow and uniform temperature profile across the entire wafer carrier.  These technological innovations produce wavelength uniformity to drive higher yields in a tighter bin. EPIK700 offers a 2.5x throughput advantage over other systems due to its large reactor size. 


Veeco has a long history of introducing game-changing systems that enable adoption of LED lighting. The EPIK700, the first of its kind with a 700mm reactor, combines best-in-class yields and highest productivity to lower LED manufacturing costs. Designed for mass production, EPIK700 can accommodate twelve 6-inch substrates or six 8-inch substrates.

Richard Stevenson, editor of Compound Semiconductor comments:
"Making LEDs with good margins is tough in the current environment. Increasing yield and productivity holds the key, making the latest multi-wafer tool from Veeco an attractive option."

 

 

 

 


Key Dates 2016/2017

Nominations open 25th November 2016
Nominations close 9th January 2017
Shortlist announced 16th January 2017
Voting opens 16th January 2017
Voting closes 21st February 2017
Winners informed 21st February 2017
Awards ceremony 7th March 2017

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