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Element Six joins US DoD LADDIS program


CVD diamond maker to work with Raytheon and Bristol University towards a new generation of military grade RF and power devices

Element Six (E6), a CVD diamond manufacturer and part of the De Beers Group, has been selected for the LADDIS (Large Area Device-quality Diamond Substrates) program, set up by the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

LADDIS aims to develop new ways of fabricating device-quality diamond substrate for applications that include RF and power electronics for operating in harsh military environments.

E6 will use its expertise to develop large area single crystal diamond substrates to produce substrates measuring 50 mm in diameter. It will work with Raytheon, which makes high-power GaN RF devices for defence applications, and Martin Kuball, professor of Physics at the University of Bristol, who has pioneered the thermal characterisation techniques that can be used to assess the produced material of the group’s synthesis work.

Diamond- based semiconductors have the potential for unprecedented power density, speed, and performance; however, there is a lack of industrial-size single crystal diamond wafers that are needed to commercialise these ‘super-devices’. By working with its network of partners as part of the LADDIS project, Element Six will aim to overcome these challenges.

E6 first developed electronic grade CVD diamond as an integral part of the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN) Large Hadron Collider monitoring systems, used in the experiments which enabled the discovery of the Higgs Boson Particle. In addition, by combining this electronic grade intrinsic diamond with solving the challenge to achieve high boron doping (>5x1020 cm-3), E6 in collaboration with ABB demonstrated >4 keV diamond Schottky diodes.

Since then, E6 has invested in the development and manufacturing of single crystal diamond and has registered over 2,000 patents in 40 countries. In addition to its facility in Santa Clara, California, US, E6 has also built and commissioned what was believed to be the world’s largest operating single-crystal diamond factory, in Portland, Oregon, US.

Daniel Twitchen, chief technologist at Element Six said: “Element Six has a 20-year track record of introducing disruptive single-crystal diamond-enabled solutions to the market, helping to unlock a range of new applications in sensing, optics and semiconductors. We are looking forward to leveraging our expertise, alongside Raytheon and E6’s long-term academic partner, professor Martin Kuball, to further develop this world-leading diamond semiconductor technology.”

E6 has already demonstrated the successful and scaled synthesis of polycrystalline diamond with diameters greater than 100 mm. These are already being adopted in passive thermal management applications of high-power density Silicon and GaN semiconductor devices, used for example in satellite communications, EW and telecommunication infrastructures.

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