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Epitaxy: Seeking Crystalline Perfection

By Richard Lewington
Epitaxy is one of the fundamental processes used to make all kinds of semiconductor devices: LEDs, power electronics and, of course, microchips.

The term epitaxy means, roughly speaking, “adding order” and that’s exactly what it does. Hot gases react on a surface to “grow” a layer that precisely matches the underlying crystal structure.

Epitaxy was first used in chipmaking to grow ultrapure silicon films—the starting point for making high-performance CMOS transistors. Today, we use epitaxy for a whole lot more.

In this video, three of Applied’s researchers, David Carlson, Yihwan Kim and Errol Sanchez, delve into the past, present and future of epitaxy technology.

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Incidentally, epitaxy is the process that started it all for Applied Materials. David relates a good story about that a couple of minutes in.

—Richard Lewington is a writer in Applied Materials’ technical communications group.

One Response to “Epitaxy: Seeking Crystalline Perfection”

  1. Doug Meyer Says:

    Actually, epi was invented at AT&T for bipolar technologies ca. 1960. Epi was first used in CMOS in the mid-80s in order to simplify scalability of MOSFETs since epi was a fast solution to latch-up, improving gate oxide breakdown voltage and eliminating crystal originated pits. It’s nice to see those barrel reactor and pancake drawings on the white board. It was also good to see my colleague Dave Carlson again, as we both pulled duty at Applied back in the day. I think that HiPOX started the equipment business for Applied, not epi. Epi came with Walt Benzing from Union Carbide in the 70s.

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