Rockwell’s DoD Antimonide (Sb) Contract Indicative of Where Compounds Are Headed

The newly
Rockwell Scientific has received a lucrative $6.4 million contract
from the US Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, under the sponsorship of
the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop ultra
low power antimonide (Sb) based compound semiconductor transistors for use in
both military and commercial high-speed digital and millimeter wave circuits.
Sb compound semiconductor materials have long been known to have superior electronic
properties and lower turn-on voltages to silicon and the more mature compounds
such as GaAs. Indium Antimonide (InSb) devices, for example, have been successfully
developed and applied in high volume by General Motors as highly heat resistant
MR sensors in automobile motors. The new Rockwell program will extend Sb into
more complex transistors types utilizing new techniques of circuit fabrication
as pioneered by researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
UCSB is a familiar name within compound semi circles, noted especially leading
edge work in GaN. Compound semi industry trackers who know well the applications
for the most mature of the compounds, GaAs, and who closely track InP and the
Group III Nitrides (GaN) often ask "what’s after GaN?" It may well
be the antimonides (Sb). Thus, the goal of the Rockwell-led team is to produce
circuits for defense and space applications that are truly the world’s fastest
and have the lowest (electrical) noise and lowest consumed power. In addition
to benefiting military systems, the Sb compound semi technology will have commercial
impact in advanced lightwave communication circuits, high-frequency wireless
applications, and integrated optoelectronic circuits. Press

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