Startup offers carbon-on-Si wafers for RF

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

Carbonics claims that CNT devices can be 30x more linear and 1000x more power efficient than gallium arsenide. The so-called ‘zebra’ wafers are 100mm in diameter and include a 1nm monolayer of self-aligned CNT material. However, active usable area is just 20mm by 30mm at the center of the wafer.

Making circuits using CNTs can exploit the quasi-ballistic one-dimensional electronic transport and achieve superior RF performance in terms of efficiency and linearity while retaining CMOS compatibility, the company claims.  In the case of the zebra wafers in silicon substrates the CNT is on top of either 1500nm (Zebra Dash) or 15nm (Zebra Bolt) deep layers of silicon dioxide.

The thicker insulating substrate is used for top-gated devices such as memory, switch, logic and RF applications covering L-Band to millimeter wave and 3G, 4G, 4G, WiFi, 802.11ad and WiGig spectrums. The thinner insulating layer is used for back-gated device applications such as sensors and detectors. The quartz substrate wafers, known as Zebra Sprint, are aimed at RF applications up to 100GHz.

Wafer prices are $875 for Zebra Bolt and Dash and $975 for Zebra Sprint.

Next: But also a component vendor

Carbonics ultimately expects to enter the market as a vendor of RF ICs based on CNTs.

It has plans to launch a product line of RF devices and integrated amplifiers in 2017 under the name Viper with a product line of RFICs and MMICs called Stingray that will include high performance millimeter wave LNA, PAs, mixers, switches and front-end modules (FEMs) in 2018.

“Carbonics intends to shake up the billion-dollar compound semiconductor market with our superior disruptive carbon technology that is fully CMOS compatible and able to perform in the millimeter wave spectrum – representing perfect timing for the 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) revolution,” said Carbonics CEO Kos Galatsis, in a statement.

“Carbonics has achieved a unique milestone in the evolution of carbon electronics,” said Ken Hansen, CEO of Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC). “This is a crucial first step from Carbonics toward high performance, next-generation RF electronics using next-generation nanotechnology for high performance millimeter wave RF and CMOS compatibility. It’s exciting to see the progress from the fundamental material and device research sponsored by SRC and DARPA develop into the launch of a ground-breaking product technology.”

Carbonics was founded in 2014 and has been backed with $5.5 million investment from Taqnia International, a venture capital fund based in Saudi Arabia.

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