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Commentary: Make Room for the New Cat Around SiC Circles
 
... Making its official debut in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA Monday evening with a hugh blow out party at the finest restaurant in Pittsburg (Eleven) for attendees to ICSCRM is a SiC startup that was quietly established back in 2003, called "Caracal." 350 of the 600 ICSCRM attendees attended the debut....
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Rohm and Haas Electric Materials Devises Germanium Film Growth Process
CompoundSemi News Staff

September 23, 2005...Rohm and Haas Electronic Materials of North Andover, Massachusetts USA and the Laboratory for Photonics and Nanonstructrues (LPN) at CNRS, Marcoussis, France have devised an new process to grow germanium films on germanium at low temperatures in a MOCVD reactor, according to a report from III-Vs Review. The work is reportedly targeting Ge/III-V hetero devices, and the researchers hope to advance the integration of compoundsemi devices on silicon and other substrates. The breakthrough was presented at the ACCGE-16 at the Big Sky Resort in Montana in the USA. Using the new and less toxic precursor isobutylgermane, the group at LPN-CNRS demonstrated the growth of high quality germanium films at temperatures as low 500C. The low growth temperature and the new precursor are expected to virtually eliminate a memory effect of germanium in the III-V material.

Many researchers have hoped that Germanium which has about three times the electron mobility of silicon, could lead to faster transistor switching times. Electrical engineers have also developed a process for combining high-K oxides with both silicon and germanium. This could be important for integrating compoundsemi and silicon devices. However, Germanium's small bandgap results in greater electrical leakage than silicon. Stanford's Center for Integrated Systems has been studying the feasibility of using germanium, and it has received aid from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Shuji Nakamura Reports New GaN Crystal Structures for More Efficient LEDs
LIGHTimes Staff

September 22, 2005...A research team led by the blue spectrum LED and laser diode breakthrough artist, Shuji Nakamura, has announced the development of a gallium nitride (GaN) crystal structure perhaps allowing brighter and more efficient LEDs, according to an article from Nikkei Net Interactive. Dr. Nakamura, who is a professor and researcher now at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), reported the findings at a recent news conference in Tokyo. Content continues for LIGHTimes SecondPage members...

Cree Offers 100mm SiC Substrates to Civilians
CompoundSemi News Staff

September 22, 2005...Cree, which has been developing 100mm (4-inch) silicon carbide (SiC) substrates for DARPA for some time now (Ref: 2003 article), has announced that it will take orders from civilian companies for its n-type 100mm SiC substrates and epitaxial materials. While the company is not new to the production of 100mm substrates, its standard is still the 75mm (3-inch) SiC substrates. The idea of switching to 100mm (4-inch) substrates is to allow the production of more circuits per wafer and thereby lowering the cost of production.

According to the company, Cree's ability to produce single crystal SiC in the larger 100 mm format allows customers to potentially double the number of devices produced per wafer compared with current production on 3-inch material. The increase is possible because the surface area of the wafer is almost doubled, and the required distance between circuit structures and the wafer’s edges remains the same. Therefore, the unused space makes up a lower percentage of the wafer surface area. Add this to the reduced cost of production per circuit for the larger wafers, and it is easy to see the benefits of the larger size.

"Cree's launch of 100 mm substrates and epitaxy establishes that SiC can be a high volume, production-oriented material within the semiconductor industry. It demonstrates Cree's technology and commitment to develop material products targeted to the needs of the commercial market," noted Lyn Rockas, Cree Materials general manager. "Cree would like to acknowledge the significant support received from the Army Research Laboratory and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in our efforts to develop 100 mm SiC substrates and epitaxy. We all benefit from the commercialization of this product," said John Palmour, Cree executive vice president of advanced devices.

Earlier in the month Cree was awarded a five-year $15 million contract (Ref: our coverage) from the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop processing techniques for switching from 3-inch to 100mm (4-inch) silicon carbide(SiC) microwave monolithic integrated circuits (MMIC’s). Also, earlier in the year Cree completed phase I of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Technology Initiative which included demonstrating 100 mm semi-insulating, high quality substrates, and developing epitaxial material technologies with better than plus or minus 1% composition, thickness, and doping control. Company News Release

Molecular Imprints Scores $17 Million More in Financing
Scott McMahan

September 21, 2005...Molecular Imprints Inc. of Austin, Texas USA, which has the uniquely precise Step and Flash Imprint Lithography technology, has received $17 million in the first close of a planed $25 million in series C financing. According to the company, to date, they have raised $60 million in funding. The company plans to use the funding to expand its Imprio product line, its testing and mass production lithography equipment with sub 50nm resolution. The investors participating in the financing of the company with its uniquely precise method of lithography include: Dai Nippon Printing Company (DNP), Alloy Ventures, Motorola Ventures, Harris & Harris, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Hakuto Co. Ltd., Asset Management Partners and others.

Dr. Norm Schumaker, MII’s CEO, said, “Molecular Imprints appreciates the support and vote of confidence our investor base is expressing with this new round of financing. We are committed to delivering on our mission of enabling nanoscale manufacturing in markets such as nano-devices, LEDs for solid state lighting, magnetic data storage for micro disk drives, and others. We are pleased to have DNP, a major supplier of photomasks, join a growing number of world class suppliers who are investing in the technology required to support the commercialization of MII’s S-FIL imprint lithography. DNP’s technical leadership, along with the other photomask manufacturers that MII is working with, will help further increase the availability of advanced imprint templates, a key element of the imprint process.” Company News Release

Ahura Releases Software for Unknown Mixture Identification
CompoundSemi News Staff

September 21, 2005...Ahura Corporation has again made an important breakthrough in chemical identification. The company has released free new software for its FirstDefender chemical identification system, called DecisionEngine 2.0, to allow the identification of unknown mixtures. According to the company the software effectively gives the device, which uses Ramen spectroscopy, billions of possible combinations and concentrations of chemicals. The results are available in merely minutes instead of the hours of work required for highly trained spectroscopists. The company pointed out that that the identification algorithm does not rely on error prone subtraction routines.

Dr. Daryoosh Vakhshoori, Founder and President commented, "With the DecisionEngine 2.0 software the FirstDefender does the heavy lifting for our users, delivering reliable analytical performance with literally the push of a button. These revolutionary patent pending algorithms provide first responders with accurate information to aid in their decisions on-scene in real-time. This handheld unit provides immediate information in the harshest of environments and does so without requiring user intervention or consultation with a highly trained spectroscopist.” Company News Release

Consortium Creates Diamond Shottky Diode
CompoundSemi News Staff

September 20, 2005...A collaborating group aptly named CArbon Power Electronics (CAPE) consortium hope to reignite interest in diamond-based electronics with their recent development of a diamond Shottky diode. The project, supported by the UK Department of Trade and Industry, is being undertaken by an a UK consortium of two industrial companies (Element Six Ltd and Dynex Semiconductors Ltd) and one academic partner (Cambridge University Engineering Department – CUED). The Shottky diode was produced at Element Six. Power conversion is one of the major applications that engineers are hoping to develop with the technology. Consortium engineers have speculated that diamonds would allow power conversion devices capable of operating in excess of 10,000 volts. Content continues for LIGHTimes SecondPage members...

Sharp Labs Reports CW Blue Laser From MBE

September 20, 2005...Until recently, the only method of producing the blue laser diodes required for the next generation DVD players, was with metal organic chemical vapor disposition (MOCVD). Scientists at Sharp laboratories of Europe Ltd., in Oxford, UK, were able to produce the first continuous wave blue laser with the laser diode produced by MBE, according to an article in the September issue of Photonics Spectra. Both the Blu-Ray DVD format supported by Sony, Sharp, and others, and the HD-DVD format supported by Toshiba, NEC, and others, require 405 nm blue lasers. Content continues for LIGHTimes SecondPage members...

Fairchild Semiconductor Creates Ballast Design Using SEPIC Technology

September 20, 2005...Fairchild Semiconductor's Global Power Resource Design Center in Germany recently completed designs to meet the proposed European daytime headlight (daytime running light) safety regulations. It uses a new ballast design with SEPIC (single-ended primary inductance converter) topology. According to the company this new design is ideal for low voltage DC/DC applications, such as automobile headlights. Content continues for LIGHTimes SecondPage members...

Mostly Favorable Ruling for IXYS in International Rectifier Patent Infringement Case
CompoundSemi News Staff

September 19, 2005...Power electronics specialist, IXYS of Santa Clara, California USA, reported a mostly favorable ruling in its patent infringement case with International Rectifier (IR). According to the company, in perhaps the first patent infringement jury trial brought by International Rectifier, on September 15, 2005 the jury specifically found that IXYS not guilty of willful infringement, and the jury ruled in favor of IXYS in five the seven issues presented. IR had accused IXYS of infringing on three MOSFET patents including: 4959699 ('699), 5008725 ('725) and 5130767 ('767) patents. The infringement claims were separated into two groups. In one group the jury ruled that IXYS had infringed on the patents based on the doctrine of equivalents. The company considers this to be a minor goup of claims which will not significantly impact IXYS financially.

In the first group of claims, the jury found that IXYS did not infringe the '725 and '767 patents, but did infringe the '699 patent by the doctrine of equivalents. IXYS pointed out the jury’s specific finding that the IXYS' devices do not infringe the '725 and '767 patents because they include an "annular source region", which is inconsistent with the conclusion that the '699 patent is infringed. "I am extremely satisfied by the jury's findings in nearly all respects, and I am confident that the two factual issues decided against IXYS will be reversed on appeal," said Dr. Nathan Zommer, President and Chief Executive Officer of IXYS Corp. Company News Release

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Commentary & Perspective...

Make Room for the New Cat Around SiC Circles

September 21, 2005...Making its official debut in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA Monday evening with a hugh blow out party at the finest restaurant in Pittsburg (Eleven) for attendees to ICSCRM is a SiC startup that was quietly established back in 2003, called "Caracal." 350 of the 600 ICSCRM attendees attended the debut.

Caracal is named after one of the less-known but very interesting African wild cats with the same name. Caracal (the company) is based near Pittsburgh in Ford City, Pennsylvania and is already producing 100mm SiC wafers, and staffing relatively quickly to come online with both semi-insulating and semi-conducting 6H and 4H SiC.

Caracal co-founder, Olle Kordina is a very familiar name around SiC circles. He hails originally from the SiC MS center at Linköping University in Sweden, famed for its early (and ongoing) SiC boule, substrate, and device development. Olle is serving as VP of Caracal and is obviously the firm's technical expert. SiC, as veterans of the wide bandgap field know, is a preferred compound semi substrate by many for blue spectrum LEDs (the more popular substrate being sapphire) as used in solid state lighting (SSL) applications due to its closer lattice match to GaN. SiC is superb, however, as a starting wafer and device type for extreme environment devices and power electronics.

The company was named Caracal because of Olle Kordina's interest and involvement in saving the endangered wild cats of the world. Caracals are actually small cats (versus "big" such as lions and tigers) and known in some circles as the "desert lynx." They're especially agile hunters and are native to the drier savannah and woodland regions of sub-Saharn Africa, preferring scrubby, arid habitats. According to BigCatRescue, an educational resource (where you can find cool pictures of all the wild cats), "The Caracal was once tamed and trained for bird hunting in Iran and India. They were put into arenas containing a flock of pigeons, and wagers were made as to how many the cat would take down. This is the origination of the expression 'to put a cat amongst the pigeons.' The caracal is capable of leaping into the air and knocking down 10-12 birds at one time."

The symbol of agility and initiative will be helpful to this SiC startup as it faces tremendous competition, what with established companies such as Cree, Dow Corning (which now owns the former Sterling operation), TDI, Intrinsic and others already penetrating the SiC markets. At one time, Olle Kordina served a stint at Sterling Semiconductor in 2001 after that startup sold to the now defunct Uniroyal Technology. The operation was later picked up by Dow Corning (ref: Sterling Adds Two Key SiC Scientists to Staff). Re-reading that article, you'll see mention of a number of SiC pioneers who ended up in various SiC-related commercial enterprises.

Remember... the wide bandgap community, especially the SiC community, know one another extremely well. It's a close-knit international club that has shared a long, long uphill climb to commercial viability. In the mid 1980s I was reporting SiC progress as "the recalcitrant material" using a picture of our pet donkey, Squeaky, at the time. It's one tough, stubborn material that can do things silicon and the other compounds can't fathom. I don't know what to pin the caracal (the cat) analogy of "taking down 10-12 pigeons at a time" could be, other than nabbing some established customers from the existing players with amazing speed, but it looks like Caracal (the company) is prepared to meet the competition with the agility, energy and cleverness of its namesake. Primarily this is because of Olle's club connections, and Caracal's president/CEO and co-founder, Rajiv Enand.

Rajiv and Olle are pictured on Caracal's website. Although not originally from our sector(s), Rajiv appears to be a savvy, experienced startup person. My hunch is that, by the end of ICSCRM this week in Pittsburgh, the community will know him as well as they already know Olle. Rajiv Enand evidently knows Pennsylvania well, and the two co-founders have built Caracal from the ground up since the "hunker down" timeframe in 2003, staying in relative stealth mode until now. Prior to founding Caracal, Rajiv Enand co-founded ServiceWare Inc., which trades on the Nasdaq (SVWN.OB). That company provides knowledge-powered applications for customer service and IT support. During the years 1993-2000, ServiceWare raised over $30M in venture capital from leading VC firms around the country. He left his role as CEO/Chairman of the company in 2000, commensurate with the company’s IPO.

Caracal (the company) is already making news due to its unique roots near Pittsburgh. The area is a historic steel mill town (PittsburghSteelers football). Caracal is located (ref: picture) in the newly renovated Ford City Heritage and Technology Park in what used to be the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (PPG). At its peak in the 1950s, PPG employed some 4,000 people in the small, factory town of Ford City. By 1993, when the PPG plant closed for good the area underwent a depression experienced by many old-style industries in the USA. The jobs went away with the company and the area faced possible decay. It's now undergoing what many other old style USA manufacturing centers are trying to do: create opportunities for new jobs through advanced technology-based manufacturing. According to a Valentine Day 2005 Caracal local press release, PPG donated the land to the Greater Ford City Community Development Corporation (GFCCDC) to develop the property. The GFCCDC received more than $5 million in state and federal grants to remediate the former Brownfield site and prepare the building for technology companies to occupy.

Seed capital for Caracal was provided by The Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse (now known as the Technology Collaborative) and Innovation Works, both of which are state-sponsored entities of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Greenhouse provided a $33,000 startup grant and a $164,000 research grant. Innovation Works has made three investments in Caracal totaling $600,000 and is providing ongoing business assistance to the company. The company is targeting the employment of about 140 people when things really get rolling. Caracal is reported to be committed to growing jobs in the region, attracting additional federal research dollars using graduates from nearby labs and manufacturing facilities; thus the company attracts greater investment in the region. Caracal is being viewed locally as an "engine of growth for southwestern Pennsylvania."

Inside our compound semi/SSL industries, Caracal is seen as yet another promising SiC startup. Like the others mentioned above, Caracal has as its cofounder, Olle Kordina, a strong and well-established name in SiC research and development. Olle has authored over 100 technical papers over the years and holds 20 patents. He's regarded as a pioneer of many of the SiC growth techniques used today. Olle's Linköping University thesis is regarded as an excellent SiC primer and is available online via this link.

According to a report yesterday in Compound Semiconductor magazine by technology journalist, Richard Stevenson, who is covering ICSCRM in Pittsburgh, Caracal has already raised over $9 million in funding, which is an impressive start. Richard also reports that Caracal says it can "cut the cost of making SiC wafers by almost 90%" by using gases rather than powders as source material. That would by a very dramatic entry into this highly competitive field. Although the emphasis appears to be on the electronic device side of SiC development, don't forget that tremendously less expensive SiC wafers could be very attractive to blue spectrum LED manufacturers. Looking at an online online abstract for a Navy SBIR, one can see that Caracal is making use of crystals using chlorinated halo-hydrocarbons to get their high quality and high yields. We look forward to hearing more from Caracal.

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