GTE Laboratories in Waltham, Massachusetts are celebrating a claimed breakthough in Gallium Arsenide materials research that is said to bring development of the next generation of ultra high-speed electronic devices a giant step closer to practical production. GTE scientists at the labs say they have produced extremely pure Gallium Arsenide films using a method they reckon is adaptable to commercial production, and that the films displayed the highest purity ever reported for such material fabricated using the technique. Gallium Arsenide’s inherent properties are such that by controlling the thickness and composition of extremely thin layers of the material, scientists can create a new generation of high-speed electronic devices. The process through which GTE scientists achieved their purity is known as Metalorganic Vapour Phase Epitaxy, or MOVPE. The GTE films were found to contain as little as one impurity atom for every 10,000m Gallium or Arsenic atoms. As a result, the Gallium Arsenide films exhibited a peak electron mobility nearly twice that previously achieved through this fabrication technique. Mobility represents the speed at which electrons travel in a material under the influence of an electric field. In 1984, GTE Labs became the first research facility in the US to harness MOVPE technology to create one of the fastest electronic devices known to the semiconductor industry, the High Electron Mobility Transistor or HEMT. While silicon transistors switch information in nanoseconds, HEMT devices have recorded speeds 10 to 50 times faster.
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