22 December 2020
Aixtron CVD system begins production of large-area graphene layers
As part of the research project GIMMIK (Graphene processing on 200mm wafers for microelectronic applications), a new industrial-grade chemical vapor deposition (CVD) reactor for processing graphene and hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) - developed, built and installed by Aixtron SE of Herzogenrath, near Aachen, Germany - has gone into operation for the production of large-area graphene layers.
Building on the existing knowledge of showerhead-based CVD systems, the reactor specially developed for this application is able to achieve the tight product specification needed for industrial application of these materials.
The GIMMIK project should lead to the industrial application of graphene and hBN, so the production of graphene layers is hence to be evaluated under industrial conditions. The consortium partners are developing methods to ensure consistently high graphene and hBN quality as a basis for the suitability for production in deposition and integration processes.
Aixtron is now starting the production of GR/hBN layers for consortium partners and the optimization of the layers and processes. Participants in the project are the research center IHP - Leibniz Institute for Innovative Microelectronics, the firms Infineon, Protemics and LayTec, and RWTH Aachen University. Aixtron is the project coordinator.
Supporting the industrial application of graphene/hBN
“After installation and test of the new CVD system we have taken a decisive step forward… because we now have the specific system and thus the instrument with which we can start our work on developing of processes for the production of layers with the necessary wafer size and quality,” says Dr Michael Heuken, Aixtron’s vice president corporate R&D and professor at RWTH Aachen University. “This is extremely important for applications in the fast growing markets of microelectronics and sensor technology,” he adds. “Now we are ready for the next, exciting steps towards new devices and new applications as well as production in this important research project.”
Graphene and hBN could be decisive drivers in the development of innovative products and in achieving the required energy efficiency in view of the climate crisis, reckons Aixtron. A wide range of applications such as transistors, sensors and photonic devices are possible. Due to its extremely high charge carrier mobility, graphene opens up the possibility of manufacturing radio-frequency transistors with cut-off frequencies in the terahertz (THz) range. Numerous applications in energy-efficient high-frequency electronics are conceivable for them. “Graphene and CVD-grown hBN could thus make a significant contribution to one of the major challenges, namely the need for significantly higher energy efficiency,” says Heuken.
Potential for improving energy efficiency
Graphene can not only be used for sensors for vehicle safety in the automotive sector. Mobile applications (e.g. smartphones, watches) are also playing an increasingly important role. Graphene is an important building block for achieving competitive advantages with products such as magnetic sensors, microphone pressure sensors or optical sensors, in which graphene can be used as a functional and market-differentiating component, says Aixtron.
Last but not least, new combinations of wafer-level-based graphene and silicon photonic devices are possible. These would allow the creation of graphene-based modulators with high thermal stability and significantly reduced device footprint and also photodetectors that offer superior performance to currently available photonic integrated components (silicon and III/V semiconductors).
The GIMMIK project is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) (funding number: 03XP0210A).