10 November 2022
France’s DIAMFAB moves to new dual business model strategy
DIAMFAB of Grenoble, France — which was spun off from France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in March 2019 to synthesize and dope diamond semiconductor epilayers — says that it is moving to a new dual business model strategy under which it will sell its technology directly and through application-oriented strategic partnerships and alliances.
The strategy is designed to achieve a scalable go-to-market model implemented through a mix of in-house capabilities and an extended partner ecosystem based on co-development. “Over the past two years, we have made significant progress working with R&D teams to process high-value-added diamond wafers,” says CEO Gauthier Chicot. “Our application-oriented approach based on a dual business model will now allow us to work with a broader set of industrial partners, to develop and sell high-value-added diamond wafers and our patented diamond devices manufacturing processes, while also selling directly to end-users with a fab-light model,” he adds.
DIAMFAB has already started to work with partners on the design and fabrication of high-performance devices including diodes, transistors, capacitors, quantum sensors and high-energy detectors. The company’s first market is capacitors for electrical vehicles (EVs), where the advantages of diamond semiconductors over actual capacitor technologies show tremendous potential for improving compactness and performance over the lifetime of a vehicle. “We have already filed a patent on an all-diamond capacitor and are collaborating with a leading player in this field,” says Chicot. “Among other parameters, we have achieved our targets: a high current density of over 1000A/cm2 and a breakdown electric field larger than 7.7MV/cm. These are key parameters for the performances of future devices and are already superior to what existing materials like silicon carbide (SiC) can provide for power electronics,” he adds. “Moreover, we have a clear roadmap to reach 4-inch wafers by 2025 as a key enabler for mass production.”
Diamond as a semiconductor
Diamond has the potential to be the ultimate semiconductor due to its electrical properties (5000 higher current density and 30 times higher voltage compared with silicon) and its ability to operate in harsh environments (high temperature and radiation). DIAMFAB claims that its patented approach to growing synthetic diamond material ranging from a few nanometers in thickness to tens of microns is unique in the industry.
DIAMFAB diamond wafers can be used for insulator, semiconductor, metallic and superconductive conduction applications. In automotive applications, the wafers could allow the fabrication of 80% lighter and more compact power converters, it is reckoned. In power grid applications, they could also more easily handle higher voltage and reduce energy losses by a factor of 10 compared with silicon, the firm adds.
Applications range from electric vehicles with diamond power electronics devices to IoT with 20 years long-life battery, to nuclear and spatial applications with hardened electronics components or detectors in healthcare, and even ultra-precise quantum sensors for autonomous vehicles.