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Monday, September 10, 2001
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Motorola achieves breakthrough

Dr. Jamal Ramdani (left) and Dr. Ravi Droopad, Principal Staff Scientists with Motorola Labs
Dr. Jamal Ramdani (left) and Dr. Ravi Droopad, Principal Staff Scientists with Motorola Labs, display the world's first 12-inch GaAs on silicon wafer at Motorola Labs in Tempe, Ariz. AP/ PTI 

MOTOROLA, Inc., a global leader in embedded electronic solutions with $ 37.6-billion of annual sales, announced that Motorola Labs scientists have successfully combined the best properties of workhorse silicon technology with the speed and optical capabilities of high-performance compound semiconductors that are known as III-V materials.

The discovery, which solves a problem that has been vexing the semiconductor industry for nearly 30 years, opens the door to significantly less expensive optical communications, high-frequency radio devices and high-speed microprocessor-based subsystems by potentially eliminating the current cost barriers holding back many advanced applications. For consumers, the technology should result in smarter electronic products that cost less, perform better and have exciting new features. The technology will change the economics and accelerate the development of new applications, such as broadband "fibre" cable to the home, streaming video to cell phones and automotive collision avoidance systems.

 


Other potential markets include data storage, lasers for such consumer products as DVD players, medical equipment, radar, automotive electronics, lighting, and photovoltaic. Until now, there has been no way to combine light-emitting semiconductors with silicon integrated circuits on a single chip, and the need to use discrete components has compromised the cost, size, speed and efficiency of high-speed communications equipment and devices.

Until now, the industry has been dependent on costly gallium arsenide and indium phosphide wafers for optical and high performance applications. Because of their brittle nature, no one has previously been able to create commercial GaAs wafers larger than 6 inches or InP wafers larger than 4 inches. Scientists have also been unable to combine light-emitting semiconductors with silicon integrated circuits on a single chip.

"More than 90 percent of the existing fiber optic cable is still unused and underutilised," said Bob Merritt, vice president, Semico Research Corporation. "This technology could be the switch that eventually turns on those communications channels."

Motorola has filed more than 270 patents on inventions related to this new technology and the company intends to broadly license the technology. William Ooms, Director of Materials, Device, and Energy Research within Motorola Labs will present at the Materials Research Society Workshop in Chattanooga, Tennessee on September 11.


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