Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Thinking thin brings new layering and thermal abilities to the semiconductor industry: In a breakthrough for the semiconductor industry, researchers demonstrate a new layer transfer technique called "controlled spalling" that creates many thin layers from a single gallium nitride

The same 20-micron spalled GaN film, demonstrating the film's flexibility.
CREDIT
Bedell/IBM Research
The same 20-micron spalled GaN film, demonstrating the film's flexibility. CREDIT Bedell/IBM Research

Abstract:
What would a simple technique to remove thin layers from otherwise thick, rigid semiconductor crystals mean for the semiconductor industry? This concept has been actively explored for years, as integrated circuits made on thin layers hold promise for developments including improved thermal characteristics, lightweight stackability and a high degree of flexibility compared to conventionally thick substrates.

Thinking thin brings new layering and thermal abilities to the semiconductor industry: In a breakthrough for the semiconductor industry, researchers demonstrate a new layer transfer technique called "controlled spalling" that creates many thin layers from a single gallium nitride

Washington, DC | Posted on July 11th, 2017

In a significant advance, a research group from IBM successfully applied their new "controlled spalling" layer transfer technique to gallium nitride (GaN) crystals, a prevalent semiconductor material, and created a pathway for producing many layers from a single substrate.

As they report in the Journal of Applied Physics, from AIP Publishing, controlled spalling can be used to produce thin layers from thick GaN crystals without causing crystalline damage. The technique also makes it possible to measure basic physical properties of the material system, like strain-induced optical effects and fracture toughness, which are otherwise difficult to measure.

Single-crystal GaN wafers are extremely expensive, where just one 2-inch wafer can cost thousands of dollars, so having more layers means getting more value out of each wafer. Thinner layers also provide performance advantages for power electronics, since it offers lower electrical resistance and heat is easier to remove.

"Our approach to thin film removal is intriguing because it's based on fracture," said Stephen W. Bedell, research staff member at IBM Research and one of the paper's authors. "First, we first deposit a nickel layer onto the surface of the material we want to remove. This nickel layer is under tensile strength -- think drumhead. Then we simply roll a layer of tape onto the nickel, hold the substrate down so it can't move, and then peel the tape off. When we do this, the stressed nickel layer creates a crack in the underlying material that goes down into the substrate and then travels parallel to the surface."

Their method boils down to simply peeling off the tape, nickel layer and a thin layer of the substrate material stuck to the nickel.

"A good analogy of how remarkable this process is can be made with a pane of glass," Bedell said. "We're breaking the glass in the long direction, so instead of a bunch of broken glass shards, we're left with two full sheets of glass. We can control how much of the surface is removed by adjusting the thickness of the nickel layer. Because the entire process is done at room temperature, we can even do this on finished circuits and devices, rendering them flexible."

The group's work is noteworthy for multiple reasons. For starters, it's by far the simplest method of transferring thin layers from thick substrates. And it may well be the only layer transfer method that's materially agnostic.

"We've already demonstrated the transfer of silicon, germanium, gallium arsenide, gallium nitride/sapphire, and even amorphous materials like glass, and it can be applied at nearly any time in the fabrication flow, from starting materials to partially or fully finished circuits," Bedell said.

Turning a parlor trick into a reliable process, working to ensure that this approach would be a consistent technique for crack-free transfer, led to surprises along the way.

"The basic mechanism of substrate spalling fracture started out as a materials science problem," he said. "It was known that metallic film deposition would often lead to cracking of the underlying substrate, which is considered a bad thing. But we found that this was a metastable phenomenon, meaning that we could deposit a thick enough layer to crack the substrate, but thin enough so that it didn't crack on its own -- it just needed a crack to get started."

Their next discovery was how to make the crack initiation consistent and reliable. While there are many ways to generate a crack -- laser, chemical etching, thermal, mechanical, etc. -- it turns out that the simplest way, according to Bedell, is to terminate the thickness of the nickel layer very abruptly near the edge of the substrate.

"This creates a large stress discontinuity at the edge of the nickel film so that once the tape is applied, a small pull on the tape consistently initiates the crack in that region," he said.

Though it may not be obvious, gallium nitride is a vital material to our everyday lives. It's the underlying material used to fabricate blue, and now white, LEDs (for which the 2014 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded) as well as for high-power, high-voltage electronics. It may also prove useful for inherent biocompatibility, which when combined with control spalling may permit ultrathin bioelectronics or implantable sensors.

"Controlled spalling has already been used to create extremely lightweight, high-efficiency GaAs-based solar cells for aerospace applications and flexible state-of-the-art circuits," Bedell said.

The group is now working with research partners to fabricate high-voltage GaN devices using this approach. "We've also had great interaction with many of the GaN technology leaders through the Department of Energy's ARPA-E SWITCHES program and hope to use controlled spalling to enable novel devices through future partnerships," Bedell said.

####

About American Institute of Physics
The Journal of Applied Physics is an influential international journal publishing significant new experimental and theoretical results of applied physics research. See http://jap.aip.org .

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Julia Majors

301-209-3090

Copyright © American Institute of Physics

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

The article, "Layer transfer of bulk gallium nitride by controlled spalling," is authored by Stephen W. Bedell, Paul Lauro, John A. Ott, Keith E. Fogel and Devendra K. Sadana. The article appeared in The Journal of Applied Physics July 11, 2017 (DOI: 10.1063/1.4986646) and can be accessed at:

Related News Press

News and information

Photonic chip guides single photons, even when there are bends in the road February 16th, 2018

Arrowhead Receives Regulatory Clearance to Begin Phase 1/2 Study of ARO-HBV for Treatment of Hepatitis B February 15th, 2018

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Receives Orphan Drug Designation for ARO-AAT February 15th, 2018

European & Korean Project To Demo World’s First 5G Platform During Winter Games February 15th, 2018

Hardware

Graphene on toast, anyone? Rice University scientists create patterned graphene onto food, paper, cloth, cardboard February 13th, 2018

Measuring the temperature of two-dimensional materials at the atomic level February 3rd, 2018

Leti to Demo New Curving Technology at Photonics West that Improves Performance of Optical Components January 18th, 2018

Ultra-thin memory storage device paves way for more powerful computing January 17th, 2018

Thin films

A simple new approach to plastic solar cells: Osaka University researchers intelligently design new highly efficient organic solar cells based on amorphous electronic materials with potential for easy printing January 28th, 2018

Scientists reveal the fundamental limitation in the key material for solid-state lighting January 25th, 2018

Possible Futures

Photonic chip guides single photons, even when there are bends in the road February 16th, 2018

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers February 15th, 2018

Rutgers-Led Innovation Could Spur Faster, Cheaper, Nano-Based Manufacturing: Scalable and cost-effective manufacturing of thin film devices February 14th, 2018

Understanding brain functions using upconversion nanoparticles: Researchers can now send light deep into the brain to study neural activities February 14th, 2018

Chip Technology

Photonic chip guides single photons, even when there are bends in the road February 16th, 2018

Graphene on toast, anyone? Rice University scientists create patterned graphene onto food, paper, cloth, cardboard February 13th, 2018

Liquid crystal molecules form nano rings: Quantized self-assembly enables design of materials with novel properties February 7th, 2018

Nanometrics Selected for Fab-Wide Process Control Metrology by Domestic China 3D-NAND Manufacturer: Latest Fab Win Includes Comprehensive Suite for Substrate, Thin Film and Critical Dimension Metrology February 7th, 2018

Nanoelectronics

Graphene on toast, anyone? Rice University scientists create patterned graphene onto food, paper, cloth, cardboard February 13th, 2018

Vanadium dioxyde: A revolutionary material for tomorrow's electronics: Phase-chance switch can now be performed at higher temperatures February 5th, 2018

Measuring the temperature of two-dimensional materials at the atomic level February 3rd, 2018

Viewing atomic structures of dopant atoms in 3-D relating to electrical activity in a semiconductor December 28th, 2017

Discoveries

Photonic chip guides single photons, even when there are bends in the road February 16th, 2018

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers February 15th, 2018

Rutgers-Led Innovation Could Spur Faster, Cheaper, Nano-Based Manufacturing: Scalable and cost-effective manufacturing of thin film devices February 14th, 2018

Understanding brain functions using upconversion nanoparticles: Researchers can now send light deep into the brain to study neural activities February 14th, 2018

Announcements

Photonic chip guides single photons, even when there are bends in the road February 16th, 2018

Arrowhead Receives Regulatory Clearance to Begin Phase 1/2 Study of ARO-HBV for Treatment of Hepatitis B February 15th, 2018

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Receives Orphan Drug Designation for ARO-AAT February 15th, 2018

European & Korean Project To Demo World’s First 5G Platform During Winter Games February 15th, 2018

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Photonic chip guides single photons, even when there are bends in the road February 16th, 2018

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers February 15th, 2018

Rutgers-Led Innovation Could Spur Faster, Cheaper, Nano-Based Manufacturing: Scalable and cost-effective manufacturing of thin film devices February 14th, 2018

Understanding brain functions using upconversion nanoparticles: Researchers can now send light deep into the brain to study neural activities February 14th, 2018

Aerospace/Space

Joseph N. Pelton named 2017 Lifeboat Foundation Guardian Award Winner February 1st, 2018

New research yields super-strong aluminum alloy January 25th, 2018

Nanotube fibers in a jiffy: Rice University lab makes short nanotube samples by hand to dramatically cut production time January 11th, 2018

Teachers in Space, Inc. wins Dream Project contest January 9th, 2018

Solar/Photovoltaic

A simple new approach to plastic solar cells: Osaka University researchers intelligently design new highly efficient organic solar cells based on amorphous electronic materials with potential for easy printing January 28th, 2018

Tweaking quantum dots powers-up double-pane solar windows: Engineered quantum dots could bring down the cost of solar electricity January 2nd, 2018

Record high photoconductivity for new metal-organic framework material December 15th, 2017

Inorganic-organic halide perovskites for new photovoltaic technology November 6th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project