CS Industry Awards 2011 - Winners For 2011
Substrates & Material Award: Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd The world’s first 6-inch diameter GaN (gallium nitride) substrates to be used for white LEDs (light emitting diodes)
The white LED market has been growing rapidly using 2- to 4-inch diameter sapphire substrates. It has also been developing larger diameter GaN substrates. These materials allow for better thermal dispersion which will enable LED manufacturers to reduce chip sizes and increase output power.
The company also believes GaN substrates will be used for power devices because of the excellent thermal conductivity, electric responsiveness and breakdown voltage of devices made using these materials.
The front face of the newly developed 6-inch GaN substrates is a polarized*1 c-plane*2. The company has ongoing development efforts to bring this material into large scale production and expects that these materials will find wide-spread use for both white LEDs and power devices
*1 Polarity: Polarity refers to a change in the electrical characteristics of a crystal caused by the preferred orientation of the constituent elements. The characteristics of a GaN substrate are determined by the orientation of Ga (positively charged) and N (negatively charged). When either element is oriented on the crystal surface, charge distribution within the crystal becomes inhomogeneous, resulting in a decrease of the efficiency.
*2 c-plane: c-plane is a crystal face of a GaN substrate generally used for white LEDs and blue-violet or blue lasers. With positively-charged Ga and negativelycharged N oriented alternately, c-plane exhibits a strong polarization. This polarization decreases light-emitting efficiency in the green region.
Editors Comment:Sumitomo’s development of 6-inch GaN is a really important advance, promising to drive down manufacturing costs for lasers, power electronics and cutting-edge LEDs.
Epiwafer Processing Award: EVG 850TB/DB: Temporary Bonding/Debonding Systems
Thin wafer processing is a key enabling technology for compound semiconductor applications such as high-brightness light emitting diodes (HB-LEDs), power devices, radio-frequency (RF) devices, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), and most recently for through-wafer-via (TWV or TSV for silicon substrates) applications and 3D chip stacking. Handling and processing of thin wafers is quite delicate and requires thin wafer specific equipment modifications for further processing. Especially the high fragility of III-V compound semiconductors makes them prone to wafer breakage. A far more cost-effective method is temporary bonding of the device wafer to a carrier wafer prior thinning. This carrier wafer provides mechanical stability to the thinned device wafer. The main advantage of this approach is that the device wafer thickness can be further reduced, enabling further improved device performance.
Additionally, temporary bonded wafers can be handled and processes like standard bulk wafers. In this way the whole frontend and back-end foundry as well as packaging infrastructure can be utilized.
After thinning and/or backside processing the device wafer is debonded. The debonding technology is the cornerstone of thin wafer handling. The EVG 850TB/DB Temporary Bonding / Debonding system, an integral part of EVG industry proven range of HVM ready production wafer bonding systems, integrates the bonding and debonding steps of thin wafers, as well as cleaning and film frame mounting, in one system.
Alternatively the thin wafers can be loaded into coin stacks or put onto thin wafer carriers. Adding only two process steps, temporary bonding and debonding, allows thin wafer processing on standard equipment in any existing fab.
Editors Comment: Tremendous innovation within the III-V industry is leading to the creation of many different device architectures requiring wafer thinning. EVG’s tool will help these devices leap from lab to fab.
Metrology, Test and Measurement Award: BlueRay DS – Cascade Microtech
The Cascade Microtech BlueRay DS probe station allows testing double-sided substrates typically performed in a laboratory with the ability to meet the throughput and reliability requirements of a production environment. The BlueRay DS is a universal platform for a multitude of applications in semiconductor test such as LED, MEMS, and optical devices. – Testing backside-emitting LED is now possible. The prober can be equipped with an integrating sphere or fiber assembly to collect and measure the light at the backside of the substrate. This allows higher measurement accuracy compared to a setup using a reflected beams. - Inspecting transparent and semi-transparent substrates require a light source below the specimen.
In combination with a Shack-Hartmann sensor, this tool is the perfect platform for quality inspection of microlens arrays. – The test of a MEMS device, for example a semiconductor microphone, requires stimulation by noise and measurement of the electrical response on top. The BlueRay DS provides the platform to execute such tests even in a high-volume production environment.
The wafer prober is designed to grow with the production demand. The machine concept is modular and can be expanded step by step from the development lab to the production fab. In the simplest setup, the probe station is just a semi-automatic benchtop tool that can be expanded to a fully automatic prober with wafer cassette feeding. Wafer probers are typically designed to place the substrates to a flat chuck and probe from the top side only. If the customer’s substrates are structured on both sides, the wafer test requires a special probe system to get access to both the top and bottom of the wafer. Before the BlueRay-DS, such substrates only could be tested in the packaged state. The packaging itself is costly and the cost of packaging bad die can be saved if the bad die are identified earlier in the process. With the BlueRay DS, Cascade has transitioned double sided probing into the production test process, becoming the first company that offers a modular wafer probing solution that grows with the process requirements of the development lab to the production fab.
The BlueRay DS allows test instrumentation of 100 mm; this can be any measurement setup for electrical and non-electrical parameters. Compared to competitive products, the free space at the substrate could be increased enormously. Where other systems only have a fiber to collect light of the DUT, the BlueRay DS can hold an entire 4" integrating sphere.
In combination with the precise motorized holder, the positioning of the instrumentation can be as close as a few μm to the DUT.
This new opportunity opens a new window into test setups that were never possible before, and existing tests can reach a new dimension of measurement accuracy in a production environment.
Editors Comment: The LED industry is striving for better testing standards. Cascade’s tool could be part of the solution.
Fab Measurement Award: 150-mm Silicon Carbide Substrates – Cree, Inc
Cree, Inc is being recognised for a major breakthrough in the development and wide scale commercialization of silicon carbide (SiC) technology with the demonstration of high quality, 150 mm SiC substrates with micropipe densities of less than 10/cm2. The current Cree standard for SiC substrates is 100-mm diameter material.
SiC is a high-performance semiconductor material used in the production of a broad range of lighting, power and communication components, including light-emitting diodes (LEDs), power switching devices and RF power transistors for wireless communications. The significant size advancement of single crystal SiC substrates to 150-mm can enable cost reduction and increased throughput, while bolstering the continued growth of the SiC industry.
Cree’s Advanced Device Clean Room facility has enabled them to maintain a strong pace of innovative development and continue manufacturing improvements.
Editors Comment: Cree’s commercialisation of 150 mm SiC is great news for everyone in the wide bandgap electronics industry. It should spur reductions in the manufacturing costs of Schottky diodes and various forms of transistor.
Most Innovative Device Award: RFRD6460 PowerSmart™ Power Platform – RFMD
RFMDs RFRD6460 3G multi-band,multimode PowerSmart Power Platform is targeted at Smartphones and mobile internet devices (MIDs) by providing extensive flexibility and customization, user experience focused performance with realtime battery life optimization, and a dramatically smaller front end solution sizeall while accelerating an original equipment manufacturer’s (OEMs) time to market.
At the heart of the RFRD6460 is the industry’s first RF configurable power core, designed to seamlessly merge RFMDs leading, industry-proven VSWR-tolerant, quadrature power amplifier technology with RFMD’s patented power management technology in a new category of cellular sub-system. Although comprised of two separate component placements, the RF6260 and the RF6560, these components were developed to operate seamlessly as an agile and highly RF configurable power core.
The RF configurable power core enables the replacement of all traditionally used power amplifiers and power amplifier DCDC converters used in 3G front ends by covering current and foreseeable modulation schemes as well as having broad, scalable band coverage that enables up to 5 bands of WCDMA/HSPA+ operation. Additionally, the power core provides performance and battery life customization without hardware changes as well as the ability to maximize efficiency across power levels, data rates, and during non-ideal load conditions (VSWR).
RFMD’s revolutionary PowerSmart Power Platform is the first of its kind to provide OEMs the ability to build a truly global and cost-effective Smartphone platform.
This new product platform meets the widely varying needs of mobile operators and, most importantly, provides the capability to efficiently move as the user moves between voice and data, between mobile operators, and between regions of the world.
Editors Comment: RFMD’s RFRD6460 excels in the areas that really matter. It combines incredibly low power consumption with a small footprint and versatile amplification.
Most Innovative Device Award: Advanced Gallium Nitride (GaN) research and development – TriQuint Semiconductor
TriQuint received a multi-year Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) research award of $16.2 million to create complex, high dynamic range circuits for future defence and aerospace semiconductor applications. These are some of the most demanding uses for semiconductors in any industry, and a significant technical undertaking.
The intent of this R&D contract was to conduct advanced Gallium Nitride (GaN) research and development, to create new generations of compound semiconductor circuits through the Nitride Electronic NeXt- Generation Technology (NEXT) program. The NEXT program goals are focused on the development of GaN circuits that fundamentally advance design engineering.
These developments could set the stage for revolutionary new designs that are as different as today’s computers are different from those of the 1980s. TriQuint believes that in the future, the leap in technology resulting from NEXT program research will be looked back upon as a significant turning point in the evolution of semiconductor engineering. Gallium Nitride handles more power per square millimetre than gallium arsenide. It is also much more efficient than silicon. However, even when one considers the significant advances TriQuint has pioneered, today’s GaN technology has frequency and power limitations related strictly to its relative maturity compared to GaAs and Si tech. The NEXT program is designed to advance GaN several generations to create high-power / highefficiency logic circuits. By advancing the GaN technology, greater efficiencies will be introduced. These include improved ruggedness and the ability to withstand stressful environmental conditions experienced in aerospace and defence applications. It also means significantly expanding capabilities, which makes the product more useful and practical. Success of the TriQuint NEXT program could result in an industry-wide adoption of new technologies with wide reaching economies and improved performance
What is particularly novel is the significance of the aggressive R&D goal the company has set itself. The results of this R&D could be revolutionary. The ability to undertake this level of research comes from a deep understanding of existing GaN technology and the resources needed to improve it. GaN is already recognized for its ability to handle more power per square millimetre than other semiconductor technologies such as gallium arsenide, and much more so than silicon. However, even with the advances TriQuint has pioneered, today’s analogue GaN technology has frequency and power limits. So, the need to re-imagine a conventional process is fundamental to the approach to this R&D program.
Editors Comment: GaN’s great attributes have already revolutionized the LED, laser and RF electronics industries. With the help of TriQuint, the march of this wide bandgap wonder material is set to continue, making an impact in the production of logic circuits.