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  • Element Six Acquires Semiconductor Materials Biz
May 2013
SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 30, 2013 — Synthetic diamond maker Element Six has acquired the assets and intellectual property of Group4 Labs Inc. of Menlo Park, a semiconductor wafer materials company that manufactures gallium nitride (GaN) on-diamond semiconductor technology for radio-frequency and high-power devices.

The assets — acquired through an assignment for the benefit of creditors from Group4 — will expand Element Six’s semiconductor portfolio for defense and commercial applications.

Designed for manufacturers of transistor-based circuits with high power, temperature and frequency characteristics, Group4’s GaN-on-diamond system enables rapid, efficient heat extraction. This reduces the operating temperature of packaged devices, addressing heat issues that account for more than 50 percent of all electronic failures. Synthetic diamond dissipates heat up to five times better than current materials such as copper and silicon carbide, enabling device manufacturers to produce smaller, faster and higher-power electronic devices with longer life spans and improved reliability.

The 100-mm gallium nitride (GaN) on-diamond wafer uses Element Six's synthetic diamond to enable high-performance semiconductor technology, allowing manufacturers to produce smaller, faster and higher-power electronic devices. Courtesy of PRNewsFoto/Element Six.

When implemented within power amplifiers, microwave and millimeter-wave circuits, GaN-on-diamond systems offer a number of benefits suitable for applications in the defense and commercial sectors, including deployment in cellular base stations, radar sensing equipment, weather and communications satellite equipment, and inverters and converters typically used in hybrid and electronic vehicles.

The technology was a critical element in TriQuint Semiconductor's GaN-on-diamond high-electron-mobility transistors, which won the Compound Semiconductor Industry Award in March.

“GaN-on-diamond wafers are poised to take a center seat in many of our customers’ technology road maps, as new developments demonstrate its ability to dramatically reduce device temperatures, while maintaining output performance,” said Adrian Wilson, head of technologies for Element Six. “With the acquisition of the GaN-on-diamond process developed by Group4, we plan to continue to support the market's growth trajectory, ramping up manufacturing capabilities to deliver innovative synthetic diamond solutions to meet emerging market demands.”

Group4, founded as a startup in 2003, has partnered with Element Six, a member of the De Beers Group, since 2008.

Earlier this year, Element Six announced that it has boosted production levels of synthetic diamond wafers by 50 percent. (See: Element Six Boosts Synthetic Diamond Production) It also recently collaborated with Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands to entangle quantum bits, or qubits, in two synthetic diamonds separated in space. (See: Element Six, TU Delft Reach Diamond Quantum Network Milestone)

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