Rochester Institute of Technology researchers are testing materials other than silicon in an alternative semiconductor fabricating process. The process, known as the inverse metal-assisted chemical etching method (I-MacEtch for short), shows promise for increased efficiency, reduced cost and higher performance for a wide variety of electronics devices.
“I-MacEtch is an alternative to two conventional approaches and is a technique that has been used in the field, but the materials that have been explored are fairly limited," notes Parsian Mohseni, an assistant professor of microsystems engineering and director of RIT’s epitaxially integrated nanoscale systems (EINS) laboratory.
The new research applies the I-MacEtch technique to indium-gallium-phosphide (InGaP) — one of several materials being tested to complement silicon as a means to improve semiconductor processing capacity. The process improves patterning methods, which could mean reduced fabrication complexity.
"This is a very well-known material and has applications in the electronics and solar cell industries," Mohseni adds. "We are not re-inventing the wheel. We are establishing new protocols for treating the existing material that is more cost-effective, and a more sustainable process."
The conventional, wafer-based approach to creating semiconductor devices is a multi-step process to coat, remove or pattern conductive materials. Traditional processes are wet etch, in which a sample with blocked aspects is immersed in an acid bath to remove substances; and reactive ion etching (REI), in which ions bombard exposed surfaces of the wafer to change its chemical properties and remove materials. Both have been employed to develop the intricate electronic patterns on circuits, using silicon as a foundation.
Combining the benefits of these two traditional methods to arrive at faster, less expensive and more controlled processing has been the focus of Mohseni's work. The research on InGaP will appear in an upcoming issue of the American Chemical Society's Applied Materials and Interfaces journal.