Diamond ICs may finally debut

May 13, 2016 // By R. Colin Johnson
Diamonds may soon be the semiconductor industry's "best friend." Startup Akhan Semiconductor Inc. (Gurnee, Ill.) plans to make the promise of diamonds come true by licensing the diamond semiconductor process from the U.S. Energy Department's Argonne National Laboratory (Lemont, Ill.).

Diamond semiconductors have been known to be faster, consume less power, be thinner and lighter weight that silicon, but Akhan Semiconductor is the first vendor with its foot-in-the-door of actually realizing its capabilities.

Akhan Semiconductor has a 200mm wafer fab in Gurnee, Ill. and expects to announce a diamond semiconductor IC in a consumer product at the Consumer Electronics Shows (CES) 2017.

Since before 2000, Argonne National Lab has been experimenting with diamond chemical vapour deposition (CVD), spinning off Advanced Diamond Technologies Inc. who partnered with Innovative Micro Technology to produce diamond microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and inspiring diamond wafer specialists like SP3 Diamond Technologies (Santa Clara, Calif.) to create the CVD equipment to deposit perfect crystalline diamond.

So far, however, the biggest successes for diamond have been in jewelry, abrasives and other industrial uses of man-made diamonds. Nevertheless, Argonne National Labs continued pursuing the dream of diamond semiconductors by finding a way to make diamond—a natural insulator—into a semiconductor and a conductor laying out the path to all diamond chips.

 

 

CEO Adam Kahn explains his vision for diamond semiconductors at his namesake company Akahn Semiconductors. (Source: Akahn)