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Synthetic Diamond Leader Closes out 2014 with Significant Growth; Targets Challenges Faced in Water Treatment, Semiconductors and Medical Devices
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (Jan. 20, 2015)—On the heels of a break out year for synthetic diamond, Element Six—the world leader in synthetic diamond supermaterials and member of The De Beers Group of Companies—today announced that its Technologies Group experienced more than 20 percent growth in 2014, marking the third consecutive year of high growth. Building upon the company’s positive results, in 2015 Element Six will extend its research and development efforts to leverage synthetic diamond to enhance EUV optics power levels, help create environmentally friendly and cost-effective methods to treat industrial wastewater, and to create novel thermal management solutions for semiconductor devices, among others.
“2014 was a successful growth year for our company and the progression of synthetic diamond material. Not only has Element Six championed the use of synthetic diamond in the fields of semiconductors and optics, it also served as a collaborative partner to esteemed academic and private organizations interested in taking advantage of diamond’s unique properties,” remarked Adrian Wilson, head of the Technologies Group at Element Six. “As technology advances, across all industries, we see more challenges—often requiring smaller and more powerful devices that can withstand greater abuse. Our R&D teams already have projects underway to accelerate synthetic diamond solutions for various emerging markets.”
Element Six Technologies Group Growth
In 2014, the Raytheon Company proved that Element Six Gallium Nitride (GaN)-on-Diamond wafers significantly outperforms industry standard gallium nitride-on-silicon carbide (GaN-on-SiC) in radio frequency (RF) devices. In high electron mobility transistor (HEMT) devices, Raytheon achieved a three times improvement in GaN-on-Diamond’s RF areal power density, compared to GaN-on-SiC devices. This study asserted that GaN-on-Diamond substrates, fabricated by Element Six, exhibit a clear advantage over other substrate materials—largely in part because synthetic diamond dissipates heat up to five times more effectively than silicon or silicon carbide.
In September 2014, Element Six was selected by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development to help build a new ultrafast pulse disk laser. As part of the three year project Element Six will further develop its low-loss, high purity single crystal chemical vapor deposition (CVD) diamond material to help create a new ultrafast pulse disk laser to increase productivity for precision micromachining. Element Six also partnered with leading academic institutions, including the University of Strathclyde, theUniversity of Warwick, and Harvard University to spur innovation in high-power lasers and nano-scale sensing. Furthermore, Element Six scientists working with academics in Delft University in the Netherlands established that diamond spin qubits were a prime candidate for the realization of quantum networks.
2015 Product Innovation
In the year ahead, Element Six is focused on continued development of its synthetic diamond products to address growing demands across the semiconductor, optics, water treatment, detectors, industrial and electronics industries. Information about four standout projects can be found detailed below.
Semiconductor and Optics
GaN RF devices have seen steady growth, particularly in the military radar and commercial cellular base station markets. According to Yole Développement, such devices could reach more than 18 percent of the overall RF device market by 2020. Element Six predicts that use of GaN semiconductor substrate technology for high-power RF power amplifiers, for both commercial and defense applications, will take a significant share of the market in 2015 due to the higher power levels and efficiencies that GaN enables. In preparation of the demand for high-power GaN RF power amplifiers, and to unlock the intrinsic performance capability of these devices, Element Six Technologies is further developing GaN-on-Diamond substrate technology that provides excellent thermal management of GaN devices and can be cost-effectively scaled to high volumes.
EUV will continue its progression, enabling semiconductor manufacturing at the sub-10nm technology node. In order to accomplish this, laser manufacturers need optics solutions that can handle a greater amount of power while navigating the limitations of optical coatings. To combat this issue, Element Six is working on an anti-reflection solution for diamond windows that promises superior performance over current solutions. These diamond windows, with alternative anti-reflection technology, will create an economically feasible way to reach the required power levels.
Worldwide the treatment of industrial wastewater is an issue of serious concern. According to UN-Water, the United Nations inter-agency coordination mechanism for all freshwater and sanitation related matters, more than 80 percent of wastewater is not collected or treated worldwide. Additionally, the organization reports that up to 90 percent of untreated wastewater in developing countries travels into rivers, lakes and highly productive coastal zones, threatening food security and access to safe drinking and bathing water.
Today no cost-effective solutions exist in the oil and gas industry for smaller refinery wastewater treatment plants. Boron-doped diamond (BDD) is the ideal electrode material to electrochemically convert toxic organic pollutants to CO2. Element Six’s electrochemical oxidation process using BDD electrodes cost-effectively transforms the toxic pollutants in wastewater into biocompatible organics, so that clean water can be safely discharged into the environment.
In addition, industrial laundry machines are in need of a low-temperature solution to lower costs and conserve energy. BDD electrodes offer an excellent solution to reduce energy and chemical use in the industrial laundry through efficient oxidation of organic and inorganic compounds to kill known pathogens. To help remedy this global issue, in 2015 Element Six will start beta testing its BDD electrodes at wastewater plants and low-temperature industrial laundry facilities.
For in-situ probing and sensing, synthetic diamond offers a unique combination of optical and thermal properties. Element Six synthetic diamond technologies can be used in non-invasive surgery where synthetic diamond optical components are part of a fiber optical system delivering high power laser beams—essentially used as a precision cutting instrument. In the future, these laser-based technologies may replace traditional surgery allowing operations to be performed in less time and at a lower overall cost.
Furthermore, as the industry’s best thermal management solution, synthetic diamond provides excellent thermal conductivity to keep medical probes and sensors cool, preventing such hazards as blood coagulation. Element Six will provide synthetic diamond for initial testing of synthetic diamond medical probes and sensors in 2015.