MEMS and Sensors

Quantum Recruits Silvaco to Model Si-Ge-C Superlattices

27 March 2014

Quantum Semiconductor LLC (San Jose, Calif.), a company founded in 2000 to research superlattice crystal structures, is working with TCAD software provider Silvaco Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.) to develop models for silicon-based superlattice films.

The modeling and verification of devices within TCAD software is a preliminary step to getting the technology accepted by the industry at large.

SiGeC superlattice films – which have radically improved optoelectronic properties – enable light absorption and emission across an extended wavelength range, from ultraviolet to medium wavelength infrared. Through their collaboration, Quantum Semiconductor and Silvaco plan to incorporate new electronic band structure models of the Si-based superlattices into Silvaco's TCAD tools, which will then be used to perform advanced device simulations.

Quantum Semi claims that SiGeC superlattices have optoelectronic and thermoelectric properties, that could revolutionizing image sensors.They could replace compound semiconductor sensors in some applications with superior performance and reduced costs, the company claims. Applications include silicon photonic receivers, high efficiency solar cells, advanced CMOS devices, and thermoelectric converters. The monolithic integration of Si-Ge-C superlattices with CMOS would add functionality with minimal additional manufacturing costs.

Such SiGeC-plus-CMOS image sensors could replace compound semiconductor sensors in security, night vision, defense, gesture recognition, agricultural monitoring and low dose x-ray imaging. The combination of SiGeC optoelectronics with CMOS could be also useful for optical communications.

Quantum Semi has been working on SiGeC superlattice structures for many years. The company was founded in 2000 by Lynn Forester, Carlos Augusto and Pedro Diniz and has received grant funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Science Foundation.

"We expect that this partnership will enable Silvaco to provide additional unique solutions to our customers working on the next generation of optoelectronic devices which incorporate these novel superlattice materials," said Eric Guichard, vice president of TCAD at Silvaco, in a statement from Quantum Semiconductor.

Prior to co-founding Quantum Semi CEO Forester held a senior management position with Honeywell Advanced Microelectronic Materials, having previously spent three years at the IMEC research institute (Leuven, Belgium). Prior to that Forester had been recruited by Philips Semiconductor to work on the MegaProject, a joint initiative between Siemens and Philips to develop 1-Mbit dynamic and static RAMs.

Augusto, co-founder and CTO, also spent time at IMEC. He was a member of the research staff in the Advanced Silicon Devices Group and worked on the device, process, modeling and fabrication of SiGe vertical MOSFETs and DRAMs. Augusto was recruited by Rockwell Semiconductor and moved to work in Newport Beach, California.

Co-founder Diniz is vice president of design engineering and is responsible for circuit and system design. Previously, Diniz was an assistant professor with the Computer Science Department at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles.

Related links and articles:

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Over the Horizon: Nanotech Transistors and Thermoelectric Materials

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