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5 March 2013

OPEL announces RF & microwave test results for both n- and p-channel transistors fabricated in POET GaAs process

OPEL Technologies Inc of Toronto, Ontario, Canada – which develops III-V semiconductor devices and processes through US affiliate OPEL Defense Integrated Systems (ODIS Inc) of Storrs, CT – says that it has achieved Milestone 4 in its Planar Optoelectronic Technology (POET) development, achieving radio frequency and microwave operation of both n-channel and p-channel transistors.

The POET process enables monolithic fabrication of gallium arsenide (GaAs) integrated circuits containing both electronic and optical elements on a single wafer. The technology was developed over the past 18 years by chief scientist Dr Geoff Taylor and his team. Potential high-speed and power-efficient applications include devices such as servers, tablet computers and smartphones. III-V semiconductor devices developed by ODIS include infrared sensor arrays and ultra-low-power random access memory.

OPEL says that, with the latest achievement, POET extends the capability of its monolithic platform to cover integration of a complete range of wavelength-division multiplexed (WDM)-capable optoelectronic devices and functions. This is in addition to complementary electronics based on n-channel and p-channel transistors as either field-effect transistors (FETs) or bipolar devices.

Specifically for this milestone, 3-inch POET wafers fabricated at BAE Systems in Nashua, NH, USA yielded submicron n-channel and micron-sized p-channel transistors operating at frequencies of 42GHz and 3GHz, respectively. These operating frequencies are expected to be improved even further in the short term to up to 300-350GHz for the n-channel device.

“Following the success of our vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) milestone achieved recently [announced in December], this result further verifies POET’s electronic and optical monolithic compatibility, a key advantage of POET as a silicon CMOS replacement,” says OPEL’s executive director Peter Copetti. “Our on-chip optical generation and detection capability is unique in the semiconductor industry,” he claims.

Progress on Taylor’s work at the OPEL lab had been delayed by damage sustained to key equipment during a multi-day power outage caused by Tropical Storm Sandy in late October. However, the rebuild should be completed next week, and the firm expects the affected equipment to be recalibrated and operational again by the end of March. “Given the caliber of the POET team, we are confident that the lost time will be made up, so that it will not have a material impact on the milestone target dates,” Copetti says.

After completing a CDN$7.2m private placement fundraising in mid-February to fund POET’s commercialization, about $1.3m in new capital equipment was ordered to upgrade the R&D facility capabilities. OPEL has now completed all necessary site infrastructure upgrades and is awaiting arrival of the new equipment. The firm expects it to be installed, calibrated and commissioned by the end of June.

OPEL reckons that, by enabling increased speed, density, reliability, power efficiency and much lower bill-of-materials and assembly costs, POET can allow continued advances in semiconductor device performance and capabilities for many years, overcoming the current power and speed bottlenecks of silicon-based circuits, and can change the future development roadmaps of applications including mobile devices, computer servers, storage arrays, imaging equipment, networking equipment, transportation systems, and test & measurement instruments.




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