AmberWave Systems, a leader in the research, development and licensing of advanced technologies for semiconductor manufacturing, announced that they, along with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), were awarded a three-year research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The research grant will allow the two organizations to explore the integration of compound semiconductor devices on silicon using a technique called Aspect Ratio Trapping (ART), an initial development by AmberWave Systems.

“The joint venture between RIT and AmberWave is an example of our interest in cultivating technology from the ground level up,” said Richard Faubert, president and CEO of AmberWave Systems. “We are extremely enthusiastic about what the partnership will bring to the advancement of semiconductor devices.”

ART is a technology that may open the door to faster, more powerful chips, which could find their way into a wide range of applications, from silicon-based photonics to improved photovoltaic cells. In the case of silicon photonics, ART could allow manufacturers to combine different materials onto a silicon base, forming chips that use light pulses to carry data, similar to fiber optic technology. The result is increased speed of data transmission much faster than today’s current systems allow.

“This award plays on the value of industry and university collaboration and the demonstrated strengths of AmberWave in the area of epitaxial thin film electronic materials, and of RIT’s Microelectronics researchers in the area of integrating novel materials into mainstream silicon microelectronics devices to enhance performance,” said Donald Boyd, vice president for research at RIT.

The III-V electronic materials, such as those being investigated by the help of the NSF grant, have been used for years in niche markets, requiring extreme high-speed performance, optical properties and/or radio frequency properties. Yet, they have seen little market penetration for more mainstream applications due to high costs and difficulty in integration with conventional, inexpensive silicon electronics. However, ART would allow manufacturers to capitalize on their investments in current manufacturing technologies, reducing considerable costs and allowing the devices to be included in a wide range of products at consumer-friendly prices.

“This research holds the potential for seamlessly integrating III-V and silicon microelectronics to retain the best properties of each, opening up the possibility for truly massive speed improvements in memory and processor chips, integrated silicon-photonic devices for ultra-high bandwidth fiber-optic communications and novel radio frequency chips for wireless communications,” Boyd added.