SAN FRANCISCO Claiming to leverage nanotechnology to grow crystals that wouldn’t occur naturally on earth, bulk aluminum nitride (AIN) supplier Crystal IS said Thursday (May 11) it has developed a manufacturing technique to grow a novel crystal which, when sliced and polished, can be used as a semiconductor substrate for the next generation in optoelectronic and high-power RF devices.
With a high thermal conductivity and a low lattice mismatch to the device layers, this material offers reliability advantages and can reach wavelengths in the deep UV spectrum unavailable to conventional materials, according to Crystal IS (Green Island, N.Y.).
"This development is significant, as it opens up a number of market opportunities including bio-agent sensors, phototherapy, water and air purification," said Ding Day, Crystal IS CEO, in a statement.
Based on this technology, Crystal IS released what it claims to be the world's first 2-inch AIN substrates for use in high-power RF electronics, UV optoelectronics and so-called "blue" optoelectronics. The 2-inch AlN substrates are now commercially available with up to 50 percent single crystal usable area, the company said.
Crystal IS said that substrates currently represent between 10 and 15 percent of the compound semiconductor market. The percentage of nitride devices requiring high performance substrates is expected to increase to 25 percent in 2007, the company said.
Until recently, low-defect native AlN substrates have been available only in pieces sized 1 inch or less, typically of irregular shapes, making them unsuitable for high-volume wafer fabrication, according to Day.
"Alternative techniques do exist to produce 'quasi-bulk' AlN substrates, but these all involve growing on non-native substrates and result in a high level of defect densitiesmore than 100,000 times that of the native substrate," Day said. "The release of low-defect 2-inch AlN substrates will make this technology compatible with most optoelectronic process lines and will enable the commercialization of deep UV optoelectronic products.”
Privately held Crystal IS, founded in 1997, said it is currently expanding its manufacturing facility and has recently expanded its executive team with the addition of Day, formerly of Alpha Industries Inc., and another high-ranking executive. The company has received venture backing from 3i, ARCH Venture Partners, JVP, Harris & Harris Group Inc. and Counter Point Ventures. Crystal IS nabbed $5 million in Series A funding in 2004.