New Mexico Patent of the Month – January 2022

Semiconductors are materials that allow conductivity between conductors and nonconductors/insulators. This means conductivity between materials like metals and ceramics. These semiconductors can be made from silicon elements or compounds like cadmium selenide. As the semiconductor industry has advanced, semiconductor devices have continued to shrink and so the processes for making them have had to as well. This means processes are needed to produce micron or nano-scale features.

Skorpios Technologies, Inc. has recently developed a system that supports this nanoscopic scale technology. Their system can produce an etched facet in a multi quantum well structure. A quantum well is a nanometer-thin layer which can confine quasiparticles (like electrons or holes) in a space perpendicular to the layer surface. These well systems are used in semiconductors to create compact, fast, and highly efficient systems.

Skorpios’ system uses etched facets on a chip bonded to a silicon platform. The etched facets help to optimize alignment between the metal of the chip and the patterns printed on the silicon platform. The pattern of the etching (i.e. distance between lines) impacts the performance of a device. A certain distance can increase efficiency of the laser or modulator for instance.  It can be very difficult to precisely place the contact metal on a chip within the silicon platform when the chip is etched before placement. A slight deviation in placement will drastically impact efficiency by misaligning the metal of the chip and silicon platform.

The method developed by the company first places the chips in the platform pits and then etches the chip. This way the precise location of the etched facets are known, rather than guessing where they ended up. In addition to knowing the precise location, the contact metal can be placed much closer to the etched facet. One more benefit of this method is that there are reduced instances of damaging the facet and less chance of inducing light-scattering defects. 

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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