MOTOROLA CREATES NEW SEMICONDUCTOR MATERIALS; POTENTIAL TO TRANSFORM MULTIPLE INDUSTRIES.
The discovery, which solves a problem that has been vexing the semiconductor industry for nearly 30 years, opens the door to significantly less expensive optical communications, high-frequency radio devices and high-speed microprocessor-based subsystems by potentially eliminating the current cost barriers holding back many advanced applications. For consumers, the technology should result in smarter electronic products that cost less, perform better and have exciting new features. The technology will change the economics and accelerate the development of new applications, such as broadband "fiber" cable to the home, streaming video to cell phones and automotive collision avoidance systems.
Other potential markets include data storage, lasers for such consumer products as DVD players, medical equipment, radar, automotive electronics, lighting, and photovoltaics. Until now, there has been no way to combine light-emitting semiconductors with silicon integrated circuits on a single chip, and the need to use discrete components has compromised the cost, size, speed and efficiency of high-speed communications equipment and devices.
"This is a tremendous achievement by our scientists and one that has the potential, when fully commercialized, to transform the industry in a way that is similar to the transition from discrete semiconductors to integrated circuits," said Dennis Roberson, senior vice president and chief technology officer, Motorola, Inc.
"Motorola's announcement that they have successfully made GaAs transistors in a thin layer of GaAs grown on a silicon wafer could go down in history as a major turning point for the semiconductor industry," said Steve Cullen, director & principal analyst, Semiconductor Research, Cahners In-Stat Group.
The technology enables very thin layers of so-called III-V semiconductor materials (which include gallium arsenide, indium phosphide, gallium nitride and other high performance / light-emitting compounds) to be grown on a silicon substrate. Until now, this has been a virtually impossible task due to fundamental material mis-match issues. Specifically, the underlying crystalline structures of silicon and the various III-V compounds do not match. As a result, previous industry attempts to combine them resulted in dislocations or "cracks" in the material as the two mismatched structures struggled to bond. The key to solving the problem was introducing an intermediate layer of material between the silicon and the III-V material. The solution was found in discovering exactly the right "recipe" for a material that would easily bond with both silicon and GaAs, reducing the strain between the two target materials in the process.
The idea was originally developed by Motorola Labs' scientist, Dr. Jamal Ramdani. Developing and proving the exact recipe and process grew out of work done by a broad team of scientists and engineers. Motorola Labs is now working on developing the optimum intermediate layer for indium phosphide and other materials.