Kyma Technologies and Michigan State University Partner in Large Area Electronic Grade Diamond Wafer Development

by Keith Evans

Kyma Technologies, Inc., a leading developer of advanced wide bandgap semiconductor (WBGS) materials technologies, and Michigan State University (MSU), a leading developer of laboratory grown diamond materials technologies and applications, have teamed together on a project supported by US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) to develop large area electronic grade diamond wafers for next generation high frequency electronic device applications.

Diamond is an ultra-wide bandgap semiconductor (UWBGS) material which has the potential to enable the development of an entire new generation of ultra-high performance electronic devices. Compared to the better known WBGS materials GaN and SiC and competing UWBGS materials AlN and Ga2O3, diamond has much higher device figures of merit (FOMs) for high power and high frequency electronics applications. This includes Baliga’s DC FOM, Baliga’s HF FOM, Johnson’s FOM, and Keye’s FOM. These ultra-high FOMs translate to the potential to make smaller devices which operate at higher energy efficiency, higher power levels, higher voltages, higher temperatures, and higher frequencies than devices based on competing materials.

However, diamond is a difficult material to fabricate. While significant advances have been made in synthesizing electronic grade diamond materials, major advances are required to drive down their cost and increase their size. Increased diamond wafer size is important because it enables better device manufacturing efficiencies. Such advances are the primary goals of the Kyma-MSU team.

To increase wafer size, the team is employing a tiling or mosaic method already demonstrated by Japanese researchers. This method involves specially preparing and laterally arranging high quality diamond seed wafers which are then overgrown with thick diamond on both their top and their bottom, resulting in a single larger wafer. The Kyma-MSU team has already demonstrated this capability and is looking to extend that effort to larger numbers of seeds and larger resulting diamond wafers. The team is also investigating seed cloning techniques which, if successful, will reduce or eliminate the reliance on diamond seeds for large area diamond wafer manufacturing.

Kyma’s diamond effort is led by Process Engineer Paul Quayle and supported by Chief Science Officer (CSO) Jacob Leach. The MSU team is led by Tim Grotjohn and Thomas Schuelke, both Professors of MSU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Schuelke also serves as the Executive Director of the MSU-Fraunhofer Center for Coatings and Diamond Technologies, while Grotjohn is its R&D director.

Kyma President & CEO Keith Evans commented, “Semiconductor grade diamond is already being used in important niche applications and our innovations have the potential expand its use and impact. We are thankful to Army Research Laboratory for their vision and support and to the diamond experts at MSU for joining forces with us. With their support Kyma is now positioned to become a leading supplier of electronic grade diamond wafers.”

A factsheet about wide bandgap semiconductors was created by the US Department of Energy's Advanced Manufacturing Office and is available at https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/12/f5/wide_bandgap_semiconductors_factsheet.pdf.

About Michigan State University’s Diamond Technology Research

Dating back to the late 1980’s, MSU has a long and successful history of advancing the science and engineering of diamond materials for leading-edge electronic, mechanical, and thermal applications. In 2015 MSU and Fraunhofer USA joined forces to create the MSU-Fraunhofer Center for Coatings and Diamond Technologies (CCD) which is located on MSU campus in Lansing, Michigan.

About MSU-Fraunhofer Center for Coatings and Diamond Technologies (CCD)

The mission of the MSU-Fraunhofer Center for Coatings and Diamond Technologies (CCD) is to lead a successful transatlantic collaboration in applied research and development, knowledge transfer and education to the mutual benefit of the center, its partners, its customers and society in general. CCD’s vision is to become an international leader and Center of Excellence in diamond electronics and advanced applications development and to be the leading US R&D partner for industrial thin film coating technologies. For more information about CCD visit their website at https://www.egr.msu.edu/fraunhofer-ccd/. 

About Kyma Technologies, Inc.

Kyma’s mission is to provide advanced materials solutions that promote energy efficiency. Kyma’s products include a diverse portfolio of advanced crystalline materials (including GaN, AlN, AlGaN, Ga2O3, and MoS2), crystal growth tools for fabricating such materials, and GaN-based photoconductive semiconductor switch (PCSS) devices. Kyma's growing service offering includes specialty parts manufacturing, device processing, materials characterization, wafer fabrication, and federal contract consulting services. For more information about Kyma, visit www.kymatech.com, send an email to info@kymatech.com, or call the company directly at +1 919.789.8880.

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