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Diamond Chips to Make Meaner, Greener Electronics

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25-millimeter-square synthetic diamond wafers

The AIST team made 25-millimeter-square wafers from six smaller "cloned" wafers.

Credit: National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology

Researchers at Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have developed synthetic diamonds that could be used to make microchips capable of processing high-powered signals without requiring energy-wasting cooling systems. "Diamond-based control modules in electric cars and industrial machinery could lead to considerable energy savings," says AIST's Hideaki Yamada.

Diamonds are the best known thermal conductor, but making synthetic diamonds large enough for use in electronics has been problematic.

The researchers first tried to produce larger diamond wafers by using chemical vapor deposition to bond several smaller wafers together. Although the technique worked, it resulted in misaligned crystal lattices unsuited to making transistors. The researchers used the same seed diamonds to make a series of smaller wafers that were clones of each other, which were able to join seamlessly to create 25-by-25 millimeter wafers. Next year the researchers plan to produce 50-by-50 millimeter and 75-by-75 millimeter wafers.

"Their bonding of cloned wafers into big monocrystalline mosaics is novel, interesting stuff," says the University of Bristol's Keith Rosser.

From New Scientist
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