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Diamond Materials for Semiconductor Applications

yole diamond two approaches november 2013 report web
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YOLE Diamond 2013Will high-frequency and high-power devices benefit from the diamond revolution as a replacement of Si, SiC and GaN?
$43M diamond material market in 2020 will be driven mainly by passive devices
Diamond materials have been in development for more than 50 years. Besides the traditional tooling applications (drilling, cutting…), the interest in diamond continues to grow for optical and thermal applications, and for new applications in semiconductor devices such as high-power devices and high-frequency devices able to work at elevated temperatures. 
In fact, diamond’s unique physical and electrical properties, which include: the highest known thermal conductivity, a wide band gap, excellent electrical insulator properties, very high breakdown voltage and very high carrier mobility, make diamond an excellent candidate for electronic devices with ultimate performance.

However, the costs of diamond, as well as the remaining technology barriers limit the diamond material market to only a few applications and some high-end devices.

The diamond applications in electronic devices, such as high-voltage power electronics, high-frequency high-power devices, and high-power optoelectronic devices (laser diodes, LEDs), are the scope of the report.

Both passive (heat spreaders) and active (diodes, transistors) diamond solutions are considered in the market quantification.

Despite the high costs of high-quality materials, a large number of players are involved in the 2013 diamond materials market and its largest segment – R&D activities. Two scenarios for 2013-2020 diamond material market growth are presented in the report. According to the base scenario, the diamond materials market for semiconductor devices will surpass $43M and will be represented mainly by heat spreaders used in high-power device thermal management.

emv Diamond material2

Access to high-quality diamond material is key for diamond device development

Electronic applications, such as Schottky diodes, transistors, etc., require high-quality single-crystalline CVD diamond, which has superior characteristics such as high carrier mobility, long carrier lifetimes, high breakdown fields and high thermal conductivity. 

High quality low-defect diamond wafers produced from diamond crystal made by High-Pressure High-Temperature (HPHT) method are only a few mm in size. In comparison, the competing semiconductor materials such as SiC are already available in wafer sizes up to 150 mm. For future diamond-based active devices, it is crucial to increase the wafer size above 2-inch with the defect density 100 cm-2 and below. Different approaches to achieve free-standing wafers from thick diamond films are under development. A mosaic type method is currently approaching 2-inch wafer size, but the defect density needs to be reduced. According to our technology roadmap for single crystal diamond wafers, low-defect 2-inch wafers can be commercially available around 2016-2017.

Yole Diamond Two approaches November 2013 Report web

The Microwave-enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (MWCVD) approach for crystal growth is more promising than HPHT, because of its potential for scaling. As shown in the report, MWCVD is also the most promising technique for thin-film growth. High-quality thick diamond films can be grown by homoepitaxy on single-crystal diamond wafers.

The heteroepitaxy of diamond on iridium enables diamond films of up to 4-inch in size, but further development is needed to obtain a well-controlled and reproducible manufacturing process.

Besides the technology challenges related to single-wafer material manufacturing, electronic applications of diamond in electronics are heavily hampered by the fact that n-type doping is still relatively difficult to obtain due to the lack of an efficient donor. As p-type doping of normally insulating diamond can now be reliably achieved using boron, many activities have been focused upon the fabrication of unipolar devices. The first expected active diamond power devices will be Schottky diodes.

Although polycrystalline films have inferior electric and thermal properties compared to single crystal material, they are available in larger dimensions and at lower costs.

As shown in the report, they are used mainly in applications as heat spreaders (and many non-electronic applications, such as optical windows, etc.).  Future cost decrease and performance improvement of diamond films relies strongly on the CVD equipment used. Therefore a strong effort from equipment makers like Cornes Technologies (Seki Diamond), Element Six, Plassys-Bestek, sp3 Diamond Technologies… is focused on the development of CVD reactors with a larger deposition area, higher growth rate, lower electricity consumption and better film quality. An “integration” of diamond film directly into a wafer (used for the fabrication of electronic and opto devices as done for instance in Group4 Labs’ GaN-on-Diamond approach) has great potential to reduce the cost of heat management solutions for high-power and high-frequency applications.

Earlier market entry will help to secure better position in the future huge market

The differentiation between diamond material suppliers is mainly due to technology. Although many players are today able to supply diamond materials, only a few of them can supply a high quality material providing higher differentiation compared to lower performance but also less-costly non-diamond alternatives. Actually, less than 3 companies per material type can consistently deliver high quality products. Many players have significant R&D activities underway to develop new products and access dedicated R&D funding, as well as to hold any technological advantages they have over the competition. 

The recent acquisition of Group4 Labs by Element Six (a member of De Beers Group) indicates the trend to maintain the key technologies within a select group of players, providing them a well-established position in the diamond material market. As learned from history, the development and optimization of diamond technologies is complex and takes many years. During this period, the historical diamond players will acquire a significant technological and IP advantage which
may be hard for new players to overcome and make it nearly impossible to enter the market in the future.

The developers/manufacturers of high-performance devices such as high-power and high-frequency devices and high-power optoelectronics rely on the reproducible supply of high-quality materials. 

Leading European and Japanese companies, especially those involved in the power electronic business are still quite conservative with regard to using diamond-based devices. This provides an opportunity for other companies, which may take leadership in this market segment and progressively develop their market share in power electronics by avoiding the direct competition within the established technologies.

emv Diamond CVD

Table of contents

Glossary 6
Objectives of the report 7
Executive summary 8
Introduction 36
Noteworthy news 38
Introduction to diamond material 41
Diamond applications in electronic devices 51
> Applications of diamond in electronic devices
> Why diamond for electronic devices?
> Diamond value proposition for power
> High-power high-frequency electronics
> Road towards smaller, lighter and faster
> Diamond Schottky diode
> Diamond heat spreader
> Diamond LED
> Cold cathode emitter
> Electrochemical applications of diamond
> Micro-Electro-Mechanical systems (MEMS)
> Diamond windows for military applications
and high-power lasers
> Application of diamond in detection
> Mechanical applications of diamond

Diamond heat spreader 69
> Heat spreader material criteria of choice
> Proposition value of diamond as heat
management material
> Applications and classification
> Pros&cons of different heat spreader types
> Examples of diamond heat spreader products

GaN on diamond 77

> Why GaN-on-Diamond for HEMTs?
> GaN/xx epiwafer
> Different substrates for GaN epitaxy
> GaN-on-diamond: Double wafer bonding
approach (Group4 Labs)
> sp3 Diamond Technologies’ (US) approach:
DOS (Diamond-on-Si) & SOD (Si>on-
> GaN-on-Silicon using SOD
> SOD: main advantages for GaN growth
> GaN-on-diamond GaN HEMT
> Diamond as a substrate for LEDs

Cost of diamond materials 92

> Diamond vs other semiconductor material
> Factors influencing diamond cost
> Average selling prices of different diamond
> Main approaches to decrease the diamond
wafer/film cost

Diamond material market forecast 98
> Market drivers for diamond applications in
electronic devices
> Diamond property vs. application
> Main technology barriers
> Technology and market barriers
> Segmentation used in market quantification
> Methodology used
> Hypothesis
> Diamond material market demand
> Diamond material market value
> Conclusion

Diamond crystal and film growth 114
> Main manufacturing steps of diamond active
device processing
> Diamond wafer size is key for diamond active
device development
> Single crystal diamond vs CVD diamond film
potential for applications
> Classification of diamond crystals
> Production of artificial single crystal diamonds
> HPHT and MWCVD techniques at a glance
> Comparison of HPHT and MWCVD techniques
for single-crystal diamond growth
> High-Pressure High-Temperature method
> Microwave-enhanced Chemical Vapor
Deposition (MW CVD)

Diamond wafer fabrication from a single crystal 132
> Laser trimming
> Wafer cutting by laser and polishing
> Direct Wafer Technology
> Mosaic Diamond method
> Direct Wafer Technology and Mosaic Diamond
> Diamond wafer: State-of-the-art

Diamond film growth 144

> Main challenges for diamond film growth
> Main challenges for single crystal diamond
film growth
> Classification of diamond thin films
> Focus on microcrystalline diamond thin film
> Classification of polycrystalline diamond
> Diamond vs. Diamond-like-Carbon (DLC)
> Diamond film growth - CVD principle
> Overview of CVD techniques for diamond film
> Comparison of different growth techniques
> Hot Filament Chemical Vapor Deposition
> Microwave-enhanced Chemical Vapor
Deposition (MW CVD)
> Plasma Torch Deposition
> Diamond film substrates
> How to get a single-crystal diamond film?
> Diamond heteroepitaxy on iridium
> Focus on Iridium as a raw material
> Different phases of diamond film growth
> Substrate pre-treatment & seeding
> Comparison of different nucleation methods
> Selective growth
> Nanocrystalline diamond powder for film
> Bias Enhanced Nucleation (BEN)
> Diamond film characterization techniques
> Processing, doping and patterning of diamond
> Etching - Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP)
and Reactive Ion Etching (RIE)
> Diamond cutting, metallization a polishing
> Diamond polishing challenges

Supply chain 189

> Overview of equipment makers
> Overview of diamond material suppliers
> Diamond growth and processing:
Opportunities for non-diamond material
> Main diamond material suppliers
> Investing in diamond business is a long trail
> Recent moves, M&A, business exits…

Diamond R&D and technology roadmap 203

> History of diamond crystal and film
> Main R&D topics
> Evolution of diamond crystal size
> Diamond diameter expansion history and
comparison with Si, GaAs, SiC, GaN & AlN
> Diamond technology roadmap - CVD
diamond wafer size
> Diamond R&D in the USA, Japan and Europe
> Main R&D institutions – split per geographic
> Element Six diamond research and innovation
> Funding organizations for diamond research
> EU R&D projects related to diamond
applications in electronics
> US and Japanese R&D projects related to
diamond applications in electronics

Company and R&D institution profiles 219
> Adamas BSU - Advanced Diamond
Technologies - AIST - Diamond Research Laboratory - AKHAN Technologies - Argonne National Laboratory - Cornes Technologies -
Diamond Materials - EDP Corporation - Evince Technology - Element Six - Group4 Labs - De Beers Group - Gemesis - iplas innovative plasma systems -
Luoyang Aimeil Diamond - Microwave
Enterprises - NeoCoat - NTT Basic Research Laboratories - Plassys Bestek - Quantum Communications Victoria - Scio Diamond Technology - sp3 Diamond Technologies -Washington Diamonds

Conclusions 244

Companies Cited

Analog Devices
Becton Dickinson (BD)
Boehringer Ingelheim Microparts
Boston Scientific
Caliper LifeScience
Capital Bio
Cleve Med
ELA Medical
GE Sensing
Given Imaging
Golden Elephant of XinXiang

Insound Medical
Integrated Sensing Systems
Intuitive Surgical
Karl Storz
Knowles Acoustics
Lepu Medical Group
Life Technologies
Microfluidic Chipshop
Sensor Dynamics
Shanghai Bio Chip
Shanghai Health Digital
Shanghai Yu Long Bio Tech
Shanxi Life Gen
St Jude Medical
ST Microelectronics
Texas Instrument
Thin XXS
Tianjin Bio Chip Corp
Tronic's Microsystems
United Gene
YUYUE Medical Equipment



  • Main diamond material applications in semiconductor devices (units, wafer or market volume)
  • Different diamond materials, their characteristics and equipment and manufacturing processes
  • 2013-2020 diamond material market forecast (in mm3 and in $M)
  • Main R&D players, equipment makers, material suppliers and relationships within the value chain
  • Technology roadmap (wafer size, applications)
  • Company profiles of main players