18 November 2021
Acorn and UCLouvain professor collaborate on RF FD-SOI project
Acorn Technologies Inc of La Jolla, CA, USA (a product-oriented company that has been providing innovations for the semiconductor and telecom sectors since 1998) has announced a research collaboration with Jean-Pierre Raskin PhD, a full professor at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain, Belgium's largest French-speaking university).
Acorn is funding a research project led by Raskin to assess and quantify the performance potential of the company’s Acorn Buried Stressor (ABS) technology for RF semiconductor manufacturing.
Acorn says that, as today’s system and circuit designers approach the limits of Moore’s Law, it is addressing some of the semiconductor industry’s most significant technology roadblocks through multiple commercialization programs. ABS is a proprietary semiconductor strain technology that boosts performance for both legacy and future fully depleted silicon-on-insulator (FD-SOI) devices.
FD-SOI technology is a planar process developed to shrink silicon geometries, improve performance and reduce power, extending Moore’s Law without requiring more complicated manufacturing processes. ABS extends the performance and efficiency of ultra-high-frequency RF FD-SOI transistors that operate in the hundreds of gigahertz range and are essential for 5G and future 6G communications devices. ABS can also be applied to Acorn’s patented germanium laser technology, which provides a silicon-compatible solution for monolithic photonics-on-a-chip to overcome performance-limiting interconnect bottlenecks that cause excessive power consumption.
“ABS technology holds great promise for the semiconductor industry as a novel technique for enhancing the performance of FD-SOI devices,” comments Raskin. “I look forward to working closely with Acorn’s engineering team as we evaluate and quantify the capabilities of ABS for potential commercial use in a wide range of RF applications.”
As an expert in RF and FD-SOI technologies, Raskin has collaborated with many semiconductor companies in multiple research projects. He has pioneered breakthroughs that have been adopted by the FD-SOI sector as an alternative to FinFET technology, with a focus on low-power mobile chipsets used in smartphones and other mobile connected devices.
“We are honored to collaborate with professor Raskin as we explore the benefits of applying ABS to accelerate the performance of RF devices manufactured with FD-SOI technology,” says Acorn’s CEO Tom Horgan. “We believe professor Raskin and his distinguished UCLouvain research team will add tremendous value to Acorn’s efforts to commercialize process manufacturing innovations for the benefit of the entire semiconductor industry,” he adds.
“ABS technology can provide a 15-25% performance boost for RF FD-SOI devices by increasing the electron mobility through strain. This is accomplished without performance trade-offs and without adverse effects such as yield-threatening semiconductor layer defects,” says Paul Clifton, Acorn’s VP of semiconductor technologies. “As RF transistors are now reaching the limits of geometric scaling, further improvements will only come from materials enhancement technologies such as ABS,” he adds. “Our research project with professor Raskin will provide invaluable insights as we expand the commercial application of ABS in FD-SOI for next-generation radio technologies including advanced 5G, mmWave and future 6G opportunities.”
Raskin has contributed to scientific research demonstrating that SOI technology can enable affordable, high-performance mobile devices, leading to the advent of RF-SOI technology. The author or co-author of more than 350 scientific articles, Raskin is an IEEE Fellow, an EuMA associate member, and a member of the Research Center in Micro and Nanoscopic Materials and Electronic Devices at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain), where he has been a full professor since 2007.