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Element Six Acquires Assets, Property of Group4 Labs

May 29, 2013 3:15 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... Element Six acquired the assets and intellectual property of Group4 Labs Inc., a semiconductor wafer materials company that manufactured Gallium Nitride (GaN), an on-diamond semiconductor technology for radio frequency (RF) and high-power devices. The acquisition will expand Element Six's semiconductor portfolio for defense and commercial applications.  The assets were acquired through an assignment for the benefit of creditors from Group4.

Group4 developed the first commercially available composite semiconductor wafer that includes GaN and diamonds. Designed for manufacturers of transistor-based circuits with high power, temperature and frequency characteristics, the first-ever GaN-on-diamond system enables rapid, efficient and cost-effective heat extraction. This process reduces the operating temperatures 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 existing materials, such as copper and silicon carbide, enabling device manufacturers to produce smaller, faster and higher-power electronic devices, with longer lifespans and improved reliability, according to Element Six.

When implemented within power amplifiers, microwave and millimeter wave circuits, GaN-on-diamond systems pose numerous benefits and applications within the defense and commercial sectors. This includes 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 Group4 GaN-on-diamond technology was a critical element of TriQuint Semiconductor's device, which won the Compound Semiconductor Industry Award in March. TriQuint demonstrated its new GaN-on-diamond, high electron mobility transistors (HEMT) in conjunction with partners at the University of Bristol, Group4 and Lockheed Martin under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Near Junction Thermal Transport (NJTT) program. TriQuint has designed devices using this technology to achieve up to a three-fold improvement in heat dissipation, the primary NJTT goal, while preserving RF functionality. This would translate into a potential reduction of the power amplifier size or increasing output power by a factor of three.

"GaN-on-diamond wafers are poised to take a center seat in many of our customers technology roadmaps, as new developments demonstrate its ability to dramatically reduce device temperatures, while maintaining output performance," said Adrian Wilson, the head of technologies for Element Six, a De Beers company. "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 was founded in 2003 and has partnered with Element Six since 2008. Felix Ejeckam, the chairman and CEO of Group4, said,  "The scaling up of GaN-on-diamond wafer manufacturing volume will need the unique heft, skill and synergy of Element Six to make it possible. We believe that our customers will benefit enormously from this GaN-on-diamond process acquisition."


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Tags: acquisition, assets, element six, group4, intellectual property, Jeff Miller
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