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29 February 2008


EU's DOTFIVE project to boost SiGe HBTs from 300GHz to 0.5THz

The kick-off meeting of the three-year project DOTFIVE (‘Towards 0.5 TeraHertz Silicon/Germanium Heterojunction Bipolar technology’) has been held by a 15-partner, five country European consortium led by STMicroelectronics.

The €14.75m project includes funding of €9.7m from the European Commission, making it the largest ‘More than Moore’ nanoelectronics project under the European Union’s Framework Programme 7.

By developing silicon-based HBTs with a maximum operating frequency of 0.5THz (500GHz), the DOTFIVE consortium aims to establish a leadership position for Europe’s semiconductor industry in the area of SiGe HBTs for millimeter-wave applications (where companies like STMicroelectronics and Infineon Technologies are already strong contributors), as well as for future terahertz communications, radar, imaging and sensing applications.

“With this ambitious project, Europe is getting ahead of the RF roadmap defined in ITRS [the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors], strengthening its position in an area where the whole ecosystem is already strong,” says project coordinator Gilles Thomas, STMicroelectronics R&D cooperative programs manager.

Emerging high-volume millimeter-wave applications encompass, for example, 77GHz automotive radar applications and 60GHz wireless local-area network (WLAN) communication systems. According to market research firm Strategy Analysts, the market for long-range anti-collision warning systems in cars could grow by more than 65% annually until 2011. In addition to these already evolving markets, DOTFIVE aims to be a key technology enabler for silicon-based millimeter-wave circuits penetrating the so-called terahertz gap, enabling enhanced imaging systems with applications in the security, medical and scientific area.

Currently, state-of-the-art SiGe HBTs achieve a maximum operating frequency of about 300GHz at room temperature. DOTFIVE has set its goal at 500GHz at room temperature, a performance conventionally thought possible only by using III-V compound semiconductor technologies, it is said. A higher operating speed can either open up new application areas at very high frequencies, or be traded for lower power dissipation, or help to reduce the impact of process, voltage and temperature variations at lower frequencies for better circuit reliability. Compared to III-V based devices, SiGe HBTs enable high-density and low-cost integration for high-frequency low-power applications, making them suitable for consumer applications.

To achieve their goals, DOTFIVE partners will team on R&D of silicon-based transistor architectures, device modeling, and circuit design. The project’s 15 partners (from industry and academia) include:

  • Infineon Technologies (Germany) and STMicroelectronics (France), which are capable of producing 250GHz HBTs on silicon and are willing to push up to 500GHz by working on structural and technological improvements;  
  • IMEC (Belgium) and IHP (Germany), research institutes working on innovative HBT concepts, new process modules and transistor structures on silicon wafers;

  • XMOD Technologies (France) and GWT-TUD (Germany), two small and medium enterprises (SMEs) capable of providing the necessary parameter extraction and RF device modeling expertise; and
  • seven academic partners – the Johannes Kepler University of Linz (Austria), ENSEIRB (Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Electronique, Informatique et Radiocommunications de Bordeaux), Paris-Sud University (France), the Technical University of Dresden (TUD), the Bundeswehr University in Munich, the University of Siegen (Germany), and the University of Naples (Italy) - with a strong understanding of nano-transistors, simulation, modeling and characterization of devices as well as design of RF electronic functional block s.ALMA (France) is in charge of all administrative and financial aspects of the project.

See related item:

SiGe HBT sets new record above 500 GHz

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