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21 December 2006


Element Six sets up Diamond Microwave Devices subsidiary to collaborate with Filtronic

Element Six of Ascot, UK, which produces synthetic CVD diamond for industrial uses, has set up a new subsidiary, Diamond Microwave Devices (DMD), to develop diamond semiconductor materials and processing technology for high-power, high-temperature semiconductors for use in microwave power amplifiers and transmitters.

Element Six has also signed an agreement for Filtronic plc of Shipley, UK (which makes microwave devices, components, and subsystems for electronic defense, point-to-point communication, and cell phones) to collaborate with DMD on technology development. Filtronic and Element Six have complementary strengths in materials, semiconductor device processing, and circuits that will be used in the development of diamond-based microwave technology, Element Six says. As well as having a GaAs fabrication plant at its Compound Semiconductor division in Newton Aycliffe, Filtronic manufactures custom microwave subsystems at its Defence division in Shipley.

For high-power electronics, CVD diamond offers unique properties such as high breakdown voltage and high-temperature operation, Element Six says. If a practical semiconductor device can be demonstrated, it could provide superior microwave power and higher operating temperatures than existing devices and technologies.

Element Six has already been involved with research and industrial programs such as the UK Department of Trade and Industry sponsored CAPE (CArbon Power Electronics) program, aimed at overcoming the technical challenges of developing diamond-based electronics components.

“Whilst the technical challenges are high, a diamond MESFET could revolutionize the design of future microwave power modules,” said DMD’s general manager Richard Lang. “There is much work to be done in order to realize a practical device,” he cautions. 

“Diamond has the potential to be the ultimate semiconductor for high-frequency, high-power electronic applications,” claims Element Six’s CEO Christian Hultner. “The establishment of DMD provides greater momentum to our activities in this area and will accelerate the development of practical devices.”

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