Award Winners 2013

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  • Substrates & Materials Award

    150-mm 4HN Silicon Carbide Epitaxial Wafers

    Richard Stevenson, Editor, congratulates Chris Horton, Director, Global Sales & Marketing

    Substrates & Materials Award

    In 2012 Cree successfully developed new high quality low micropipe 150-mm 4H n-type silicon carbide, (SiC) epitaxial wafers. Cree's latest advancement lowers device cost and enables adoption for customers with existing 150-mm diameter device processing lines for 150-mm epitaxial wafers with highly uniform epitaxial layers as thick as 100 microns.

    SiC is a high-performance semiconductor material used in the production of a broad range of lighting, power and communication components including, LED power switching devices and RF power transistors for wireless communications.

    Cree's 150-mm diameter single crystal SiC substrates enable cost reductions and increased throughput while bolstering the continued growth of the SiC industry. Cree's ability to deliver high volumes of 100-mm epitaxial wafers is unrivalled in the SiC industry and the latest 150-mm technology continues to raise the standards for SiC wafers.

    Cree's vertically integrated approach offers customers a complete solution for high quality 150-mm SiC epitaxial wafers providing industry leaders within the power electronics market the stable supply they demand.

    What industry challenge does this address?

    Cree is successfully addressing the lack of availability of affordable high quality SiC materials within the power electronics market.

    How does it solve the problem?

    Cree leads the SiC materials marketplace in driving to larger diameters and this latest advancement lowers device cost and enables adoption for customers with existing 150-mm diameter device processing lines. Cree's vertically integrated approach offers customers of a complete solution for high quality 150-mm SiC epitaxial wafers providing industry leaders within the power electronics market the stable supply they demand.

    Richard Stevenson, editor of Compound Semiconductor comments:
    "The wide bandgap power electronics market is tipped to rocket throughout this decade. Large diameter, high-quality substrates produced by Cree will help to drive this expansion."

  • Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing Award

    AIX G5+ : 5 x 200mm GaN-on-Si MOCVD Reactor

    Richard Stevenson, Editor, congratulates Dr. Frank Schulte, Vice President

    Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing Award

    With its latest product AIX G5, AIXTRON SE has introduced a 5x200 mm GaN-on-Si (Gallium Nitride on Silicon technology package for its AIX G5 Planetary Reactor® platform). Following a customer-focused development program, this technology was designed and created in AIXTRON's R&D laboratory and consists of specially designed reactor hardware and process capabilities. It is now available as a part of the AIX G5 product family and any existing G5 system can be upgraded to this latest version.

    Suited for GaN power electronics as well as for LED on Si applications it addresses the industry's key requirements in a unique way:

    • Highest throughput with 5x200 mm reactor capacity
    • Uniformity pattern with rotational symmetry
    • Behaves like a silicon single wafer reactor and therefore enables highest yields targeting greater than 95% area in spec and controlled wafer bow of 20µm min-max final bow
    • Capability to use standard thickness 200 mm silicon wafers
    • Industry-wide the only reactor that enables managing the temperature gradient through the wafer
    • In-situ temperature profile tuning
    • Customised wafer carrier temperature optimisation according to customer device requirements

    What industry challenge does this address?

    GaN-on-Si technology is the technology of choice for power electronics applications and additionally a very promising candidate for high performance low cost HB-LED manufacturing. It is assumed that LEDs on 200mm Si is the disruptive technology that enables manufacturing cost reductions of 60%, compared to today's mainstream 100mm sapphire. The challenge was to develop a reactor that produces GaN based devices on silicon without compromising the performance or yield currently obtained on sapphire or smaller size silicon substrates. The technology must provide high-yield growth of GaN devices on large area substrates meeting the fundamental physical challenges of a strong wafer bow and crack formation as well as the reactivity of Ga with Si.

    How does it solve the problem?

    Based on extensive numerical simulation, new hardware components and processes were developed. A novel gas inlet was designed that provides unmatched gas phase stability and controllability. The setup delivers excellent process reproducibility uniformity and yield on the full area of all 200 mm wafers. Furthermore temperature management was adapted to the requirements of the large area GaN-on-Si process. Special focus was put on the bow management. The reactor minimises the vertical heat flux through the wafer which results in the lowest wafer bow. The specific geometry of the reactor provides rotational symmetry of the GaN films. Additionally, a reliable method to reset all chamber conditions was developed meeting the challenges of the Ga-Si chemistry.

    Richard Stevenson, editor Compound Semiconductor commented:
    "GaN-on-silicon technology promises to revolutionise power electronics and slash the cost of LEDs, spurring a lighting revolution. One manufacturing tool that I'm tipping to play a major role in driving both these changes is the Aixtron AIX 5, a reactor that combines high throughout with impressive levels of uniformity."

  • Metrology, Test and Measurement Award Jordan Valley Semiconductors

    Jordan Valley Semiconductors

    QC3 Fast HRXRD Metrology Tool

    Richard Stevenson, Editor, congratulates Paul Ryan, UK Site Manager

    Metrology, Test and Measurement Award

    The QC3 High-Resolution X-Ray Diffractometer (HRXRD) from Jordan Valley is a true leapfrog technology over the existing HRXRD technology within the market. The QC3 boasts more than an order-of-magnitude improvement in performance compared to other HRXRD systems, with scans taking seconds rather than minutes or even hours. This provides LED manufacturers a dramatic improvement in quality control of LED devices, with more wafers and higher sampling within wafers possible.

    The development and market launch of QC3 demonstrates the success of JVS' 2008 acquisition of Bede's HRXRD and compound semi technology. Furthermore, it reinforces JVS management's ability to apply its business model and expertise in providing the semiconductor market with enabling, high-throughput systems with low cost-of-ownership, achieving market dominance with a valued, customer-preferred product.

    Features and benefits:

    Productivity and Precision: The QC3 has a dedicated and optimised HRXRD system for LED quality control. As a result of its high intensity, the system gives higher precision and throughput compared to other HRXRD systems.

    Automation: The system operates with fully-automated alignment, measurement and analysis of wafers, conducting batch wafer measurements with optional robot or multi-sample plates. The multi-sample plates allow up to 20 wafers to be loaded into the system for measurement without requiring a robot. For the automated analysis of the data spectra, the QC3 uses tried and trusted industry-leading RADS software for automated analysis which will automatically analyse the collected data and report the results for specific wafers, batches, chambers. This reporting can be extended to host reporting if required.

    Economy: QC3 incorporates XRGProtect™, to ensure the tube lifetime is maximised. It also has an Eco-mode; ensuring system power consumption is reduced when there is no measurement being performed.

    Simplicity and Reliability: The system is so reliable and easy to use, that no expert is required to operate the system.

    Richard Stevenson, editor of Compound Semiconductor comments:
    "X-ray diffraction is an essential characterization tool in many fabs. With many diffractometers, this process can take hours, holding back fab throughput. But that's not the case with the QC3 High-Resolution X-Ray Diffractometer from Jordan Valley, which can scan wafers in a matter of seconds."

  • Device Design and Packaging Award

    III-Nitride Varactors with Capacitively-Coupled Contacts – new technology platform for RF electron

    Richard Stevenson, Editor, congratulates Tim Bettles, Business Development and Marketing Manager

    Device Design and Packaging Award

    SETi has developed novel technology platform for monolithic microwave integrated circuits using capacitively coupled contacts (C3 varactors over III-Nitride heterostructures). Novel device type offers simple and robust fully planar alignment- and anneal-free fabrication technology. At 18 GHz the fabricated C3 microwave switches exhibit record low 0.8 dB loss and high 27.5 dB isolation. C3 power limiters offer insertion loss in the range 0.2 – 0.7 dB and wide range of limiting powers 17 – 40 dBm. Novel C3 devices demonstrate full compatibility with III-Nitride electronics and have a great potential for high-performance MMICs.

    The C3 varactor consists of two electrodes deposited on top of AlN/GaN/InN heterostructures. Conducting channels in the heterostructures with record high 2D electron gas density (up to 1.5x1013 cm-2) and high electron mobility (up to 2500 cm2)/(V-s) form metal-like conducting plates. The electrodes form capacitively-coupled contacts with 2DEG channel with low impedance at RF frequencies typically above 2 GHz. The C3 varactor can be turned off by applying the voltage across any of its contacts exceeding the pinch-off voltage. C3 varactor does not consume significant DC bias current in addition it offers several important advantages as an RF device: (1) it has no gate so the total channel length is more than two times smaller than in HFET with the same source – gate and gate-drain spacing and hence about the same breakdown voltage (2) it has no ohmic contacts this eliminates annealing the need to align the gate and further increases the breakdown voltage due to lower edge roughness (3) it can be controlled using either positive or negative bias polarity(4) provides a built-in DC block.

    What industry challenge does this address?

    Modern RF systems require low loss high switching power high linearity low power consumption and broad range of operating temperatures. None of the existing RF devices simultaneously meets these requirements. PIN-diodes require at least 20 mA forward bias current to be turned on they also need bias filters with bulky high-precision and expensive inductors. MEMS are vulnerable to hot switching their switching times are limited to a few microseconds and many MEMS subtypes require high operating voltage and vacuumed packaging. Si MOSFETs and GaAs HEMTs suffer from low breakdown voltages and cannot achieve the required linearity levels.

    How does it solve the problem?

    The III-Nitride C3 varactor design meets all requirements mentioned above for RF control applications. C3 varactor offers high-yield simple and robust anneal-free alignment-free fabrication technology fully compatible with Power Amplifiers and the other MMICs.

    Richard Stevenson, editor of Compound Semiconductor comments:
    "In the RF world, a great deal of value is placed on low-loss switching, high linearity, efficiency and device operation at high temperatures. The III-Nitride C3 varactor design excels in all these areas."

  • Innovation Award

    Auratus Deposition Enhancement Methodology

    Richard Stevenson, Editor, congratulates Gregg Wallace, Managing Director

    Innovation Award

    Auratus is a proprietary optimisation methodology for lift-off electron beam evaporative coating that incorporates patent pending technology to achieve unprecedented levels of uniformity precision and collection efficiency. Auratus enables Temescal customers to coat wafers with near perfect uniformity resulting in more consistent better quality products and fewer defects. Temescals Auratus methodology also has the capability to increase the effective deposition rate enabling customers to increase throughput. Temescal's Auratus process enhancement methodology is available on select Temescal systems. Temescal the expert in metallization systems for the processing of compound semiconductor based substrates provides the finest production evaporation systems available. Temescal systems provide controlled multi-layer coatings of materials such as Ti Pt Au Pd Ag Ni Al Cr Cu Mo Sn SiO2 and ITO with highly repeatable guaranteed uniformity and performance metrics. For over a decade Temescal has been dedicated to mapping and better understanding the dynamics of the flux cloud. Through extensive testing and research we have collected hundreds of vapour cloud maps and used these maps to advance and automate the process of lift-off uniformity mask design.

    What industry challenge does this address?

    At the heart of every electron beam evaporation system is a vapour cloud a unique repeatable flux distribution characteristic of radiation from a point source. But these flux clouds vary based on a variety of factors in the deposition process — like deposition material deposition power crucible size the use of a crucible liner and beam spot focus. With precision lift-off coating on a conventional box coater an inefficient optimisation to the flux cloud typically results in an excessive use of process metals. Auratus solves the problem of optimizing processes to the vapour cloud improving efficiency and reducing waste.

    How does it solve the problem?

    Richard Stevenson, editor Compound Semiconductor commented:
    "The price of gold has shot up in the last few years. However, thanks to Ferrotec, this hike in costs can be combated by improvements to deposition efficiency."

  • R & D Award

    Near Junction Thermal Transport Program

    Richard Stevenson, Editor, congratulates Bryan Bothwell Strategy and Business Development Manager

    R & D Award

    The $2.7 million Near Junction Thermal Transport (NJTT) program funded by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) seeks to triple the power handling performance of high power gallium nitride (GaN) transistors.

    Success will enable maximum exploitation of the extremely high power capabilities of GaN material. Due to significantly superior power performance per unit area of GaN transistors compared to the conventional GaAs transistors, much smaller but higher power GaN monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs) are gradually replacing GaAs MMICs in systems. But the RF power utilisation in GaN is greatly limited due to the thermal issues associated with the high power densities. GaN transistors have been demonstrated with output power capabilities in excess of 40 W/mm.

    But in reality, today's best GaN transistor-based products for commercial or defence applications are utilising only 5 to 7 W/mm to keep device junction temperatures below 200 °C. That comes at a cost of relatively high gate-to-gate pitch, resulting in large chip size. TriQuint's NJTT research effort is focused on bringing highly efficient heat spreading material very close to the device junction where temperatures peak.

    TriQuint's NJTT approach is based on developing GaN transistors on polycrystalline diamond substrates prepared by chemical vapour deposition (CVD). The CVD diamond substrate shows over five times better thermal conductivity than standard SiC. TriQuint extracts less than 1 µm thick active AlGaN/GaN heterostructure layers originally grown on Si substrates and attaches them to 100 µm thick CVD diamond substrates using an advanced wafer bonding technique. This enables the best known thermal spreader material to be placed very close to the device junction. TriQuint uses a proven AlGaN/GaN heterostructure to achieve 6 W/mm of RF power comparable to today's standard GaN devices.

    The thermal simulations predict that TriQuint can achieve 3x power handling goal for the output power level, which can enable reduction of today's active device size by one third, or alternately allow today's standard unit cell devices to operate at significantly lower junction temperatures. TriQuint is using extensive epitaxial characterization to ensure device quality, material and thermal modelling and micro-Raman thermography to verify results.

    What industry challenge does this address?

    A key challenge is to prepare GaN-on-Diamond wafers for 100mm manufacturing lines while maintaining the thermal boundary resistance at the GaN and diamond interface below a critical level while keeping the GaN surface quality suitable for good RF performance. This is being achieved through innovative methods of lifting AlGaN/GaN epitaxial layers from proven high RF performance GaN-on-Si wafers, identifying / eliminating poor thermal conductivity layers of the AlGaN/GaN films, and preparing high thermal conductivity diamond substrates using chemical vapour deposition (CVD); other challenges include attaching AlGaN/GaN films to the diamond substrates by precisely controlled adhesive bonding and developing necessary new processes to fabricate high performance devices and circuits in GaN-on-Diamond material.

    How does it solve the problem?

    Thermal simulations performed before TriQuint began the NJTT program clearly indicated that 3x or greater power handling improvements of GaN-on-Diamond transistors could be achieved through this approach. During the course of the program, TriQuint has shown improvement of thermal boundary resistance of the material and negligible change in the electronic properties of the AlGaN/GaN heterostructure before and after the epitaxial transfer on diamond substrate.

    Richard Stevenson, editor of Compound Semiconductor comments:
    "When it comes to thermal conductivity, diamond is gallium nitride's best friend. Uniting these two materials isn't easy, but TriQuint has made great strides in that direction. This will ultimately allow wide bandgap amplifiers to get closer to fulfilling their true potential."