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Sunday, August 16, 2015

#329 Silicon vs. sapphire - an interesting competition

Whether it is a monolithic integrated circuit, light-emitting diode or a silicon carbide power transistor the semiconductor circuitry or a discreet device requires a substrate upon which it is formed. The substrates used in semiconductor device manufacturing were frequently a topic of my past blogs (see e.g. blogs #222 and #236).  


Because of the availability of the very large ( up to 450 mm in diameter), high quality (essentially defect-free), reasonably priced Si wafers there is no problem with the substrates in the case of any single-crystal Si based electronic circuits and devices.

Situation is very different, however, when it comes to the devices formed using semiconductor materials which do not have their native, high quality, large and relatively low-cost substrate wafers. In such cases sapphire is quite commonly  a substrate of choice (see e.g. blogs #17 and #222).  The best example is here a common use of sapphire as a substrate for GaN in the manufacture of LEDs for lighting applications.


For various reasons, related not only to the cost, but also to some other characteristics coming to play in the specific device applications, silicon would be a desirable substrate for a range of III-V compound semiconductors (see e.g. blog #231) including GaN (see blog #167).


According to the recent research reports, significant progress in heteroepitaxial deposition of GaN on the Si substrate is being accomplished.


What the above seems to suggest is that an interesting "competition" between  silicon and sapphire substrate wafers for the lead role in the heteroepitaxial device applications is shaping up. It looks like an old, good silicon may once again show its strenghts...



Posted by Jerzy Ruzyllo at 12:22 PM | Semiconductors | Link is the personal blog of Jerzy Ruzyllo. With over 35 years of experience in academic research and teaching in the area of semiconductor engineering (currently holding position of a Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State University), he has a unique perspective on the developments in this progress driving technical domain and enjoys blogging about it.

With over 2000 terms defined and explained, Semiconductor Glossary is the most complete reference in the field of semiconductors on the market today.

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