News Article

Nitronex And TriQuint Support GaN-on-diamond Bid

The US Missile Defense Agency provides $0.75 million towards a novel substrate solution for wide-bandgap electronics.

Diamond wafer specialist sp3 Diamond Technologies has received $0.75 million from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in the US to pursue work on a diamond-based substrate material suitable for wide-bandgap electronics.

In collaboration with GaN wafer and component developers at Nitronex and TriQuint, the Santa Clara, CA, materials company will use the Phase II contract from the MDA to deliver GaN on silicon-on-diamond (SOD) technology.

The key advantage with diamond is its very high thermal conductivity "“ ten times that of silicon and more than double that of SiC, the most commonly used substrate for GaN electronics.

In the Phase I part of the project, sp3 developed SOD wafers with a GaN top surface. It also performed detailed computer simulations suggesting that a HEMT built on diamond would reduce junction temperature in the transistor by 80 K and increase power output by 37 per cent.

Nitronex, the Raleigh, NC, company that specializes in GaN-on-silicon devices, will be working with sp3 on future development. "Nitronex will build active high-power devices as part of this next phase," said sp3.

"The ability to integrate a diamond thermal layer into our GaN-on-silicon strategy is of great interest," said Nitronex CTO Kevin Linthicum.

"The fact that sp3 is offering us a known silicon interface on 100mm wafers provides an easy migration to future productization and pathway to scale to 150mm wafers," added the CTO.

TriQuint Semiconductor, which is already heavily involved in GaN device and MMIC development through its involvement with DARPA's wide-bandgap electronics program (see related story), will also be joining forces with sp3.

The Hillsboro, OR, company will model GaN-on-SOD to see how it could help to generate the large increases in power and device efficiency demanded by the US military.

sp3 is not the only company that is working on the development of diamond as a substrate solution for GaN electronics. Fellow Californian outfit Group4 Laboratories hit the headlines earlier this year with its release of its GaN-on-diamond wafers (see related story).

Having already released 50mm material, the Menlo Park firm is also working on 100mm wafers, as well as GaN-on-diamond transistors.

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