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sp3 Diamond granted new patents for laser applications

The patents awarded to the supplier of diamond products and deposition equipment services, relate to thermal management in packaging. The technology is ideally suited for mounting large semiconductor chips such as high-power transistors and laser diodes where CTE matching is required

sp3 Diamond Technologies, has been awarded two patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for its DiaMatch coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) matched heat spreader technology.

The diamond-based multilayered structure outlined in the patents solves several technical challenges to deliver the high heat spreading and CTE matching required for reliable semiconductor and laser packaging.

"In 2007, we received Phase II SBIR funding from the Missile Defence Agency to develop a thermal management solution that enables the next generation of high power lasers and semiconductors. We had established solid IP in this area and began providing solutions with great potential that target current and future high-power semiconductor and laser applications," says Dwain Aidala, president and COO of sp3 Diamond Technologies.

"We are currently in the process of identifying the right thermal management or specialised material partners to further develop this technology into a fully productised offering."

U.S. Patent Nos. 8,105,693 and 8,147,927 cover a multilayered structure including at least one diamond layer and methods of making these multilayered structures, respectively. The technology detailed in the patents is ideally suited for mounting large semiconductor chips such as high-power transistors and laser diodes where CTE matching is required.

The proliferation of diamond use in technology has seen a dramatic increase in recent years. Formed in 1993, sp3 Diamond Technologies has been a driving force in that commercialisation.

"We experienced our best year ever in 2011 due in large part to two markets," continues Aidala. "We saw our diamond heat spreaders adopted in multiple applications, most notably in wireless base stations where the thermal properties of diamond are paying huge dividends. In CMP pad conditioning we sold five times more CVD diamond deposition tools than the previous year. "

"Diamond is being adopted. While our CVD diamond equipment and our heat spreaders remain our primary focus, we see tremendous opportunity for diamond applications in the future. The potential for diamond layers in the SOI-based process alone creates fantastic growth opportunities," adds Aidala.

Semiconductor devices require packaging with high thermal conductivity to prevent overheating and to maintain useful operation of the device. Existing materials generally deliver good thermal characteristics but poor CTE matching, or are well-matched to most semiconductor materials, but do not offer high enough thermal conductivity for today's devices.

sp3 Daiamond says its DiaMatch technology bridges this gap by offering variable CTE-matching, copper-level thermal conductivity and a choice of conductive or insulating die attach surfaces. What's more, it delivers precise edges and no compositional variability from point to point in the material.

The new patents detail a multilayered structure of thin diamond layers and high thermal conductivity metal layers and the methods of making the structure. The multilayered structure has a variable CTE, which depends on the various layer thicknesses and can be different on each side. This allows the structure to safely bond to compound semiconductor materials such as SiC, GaAs, and GaN while providing the thermal management benefits of diamond.

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