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The wide application of diamond semiconductors is just around the corner

October 28,2023

Diamond is an "ultimate material" with the best physical properties of all materials in terms of hardness, sound velocity, thermal conductivity, Young's modulus, etc.; Other properties include transmittance, thermal and chemical stability and controlled electrical and electrical conductivity over a wide wavelength spectrum from ultraviolet to infrared. These properties allow diamond to be used in a variety of applications such as heat sinks, processing tools, optics, audio components, and semiconductors. So far, this material with extreme performance has only applied its high hardness and wear resistance and other properties in large quantities, and in recent years, with the development of science and technology, its excellent performance in the semiconductor industry has gradually been developed and utilized.

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Application of diamond in the semiconductor industry

With the continuous development of semiconductor technology, people's demand for high-performance materials is becoming more and more urgent. Diamond as a wide bandgap semiconductor material also set acoustics, optics, electricity, thermal, mechanics and other excellent properties in one, which makes it in the cutting-edge field of high technology, especially in electronic technology has been widely concerned, is recognized as the most promising new semiconductor materials, based on these advantages, wide bandgap semiconductors, especially diamond in high frequency and high voltage conditions have a wide range of irreplaceable application advantages and prospects. The following are common applications of diamond in the semiconductor industry:

1. High power power electronics

As a semiconductor material, diamond has high optical phonon energy and the highest electron and hole mobility, and the thermal conductivity is the highest among known semiconductor materials, so it can meet the needs of high power, strong electric field and radiation resistance in the future, and is an ideal material for making power semiconductor devices. In recent years, the application of diamond semiconductors as the next generation of high-frequency high-power electronic devices has received widespread attention, and although it has impressive performance in power devices, there is still a lot of room for improvement due to the current low level of research and development, and the operating life is much shorter than expected.

2. Deep ultraviolet detector, high-energy particle detector

The band gap of diamond semiconductor materials is 5.47eV, and in the field of deep ultraviolet optoelectronics, due to the large band gap, high temperature resistance and irradiation characteristics of diamond, it has innate advantages in deep ultraviolet detectors and high-energy particle detectors under extreme conditions.

Diamond detectors have the advantages of small size, strong radiation resistance and fast time response, and have significant application advantages in the field of nuclear radiation. At present, the preparation technology of high-quality single crystal diamond materials is the bottleneck problem restricting the large-scale application of diamond detectors, and the detection performance of diamond nuclear radiation detectors is significantly affected by the internal impurities and defects of diamond.

3. Substrate material

With the rapid development of electronic technology, while semiconductor materials are constantly updated, integrated circuits are also deepening in the direction of large-scale, high-integration and high-power. According to statistics, more than 55% of electronic equipment failure forms are caused by excessive temperature. If the heat cannot be removed in time, it will cause the component to reduce performance or even burn out due to excessive local temperature. Therefore, in order to ensure the reliability and stability of electronic equipment, the development of new and efficient heat dissipation technology has become an urgent need.

Diamond is currently the substrate material with the highest thermal conductivity in nature, and it is expected to achieve near-perfect heat dissipation in a "high heat" device, so it has received widespread attention.

Diamond can also be used as a substrate for GaN power devices to help dissipate heat to achieve higher frequencies and higher powers. In the past decade, many developed countries have invested a lot of money to promote chemical vapor deposition (CVD) to grow diamonds on the back of GaN devices, and vigorously promote the development of diamond-based GaN devices. However, due to the high price, the application of gallium nitride devices on diamond substrates is limited to the fields of national defense and aerospace.

How to cultivate diamond to meet the needs of the semiconductor industry

At present, the production of natural diamond is extremely limited, so it is necessary to cultivate diamond by artificial methods to meet the needs of the semiconductor industry. At present, the methods of cultivating diamond are mainly high temperature and high pressure method (HPHT), chemical vapor deposition method (CVD) and so on.

The diamond single crystal prepared by high temperature and high pressure method generally contains a certain amount of impurities, which affects the purity and grade of diamond, and as a semiconductor material, the doping concentration is not easy to control, and the requirements for synthesis technology are relatively harsh.

CVD methods include hot wire vapor deposition (HFCVD), microwave plasma method (MPCVD), direct current injection method (DCCVD) and so on. Among them, the MPCVD method can produce pure plasma due to the electrode discharge, which avoids the pollution caused by electrodes in other growth methods, and has become the preferred method for the preparation of high-grade diamond. At present, the advancement of the latest CVD synthesis technology has greatly accelerated the development of diamond semiconductor technology, bringing us closer than ever to the diamond semiconductor era.

The application prospects of diamond semiconductors are promising

With the rapid development of the semiconductor industry, our demand for high-performance materials is becoming more and more urgent. Diamond semiconductor devices have excellent physical properties, including high thermal conductivity, high breakdown field strength, and high carrier mobility, which can significantly reduce losses, quickly dissipate heat, and extend device life. In addition, due to its excellent performance, it can operate 50,000 times higher output power and energy efficiency and 1,200 times more frequency than silicon devices. Therefore, diamond has great application potential in the field of power semiconductor devices.

At present, the application of diamond semiconductors in new materials, new devices and new technologies is in a stage of rapid development, and the world is stepping up the research and development of diamond in the field of semiconductors. Its continuous innovation and development have also brought wider application prospects to all walks of life.

In order to accelerate the breakthrough of key technologies such as high-quality and large-size diamond wafers, researchers and industry experts in multiple fields and interdisciplinary fields have actively promoted it, and functional diamond materials will eventually move out of the laboratory to commercialize in the near future.