Cool calculation

Jülich, July 19, 2017 - Metallic substrates for future semiconductor technology and Green IT.

An international team of researchers led by Jülich chemist Dr. Hilde Hardtdegen has succeeded, for the first time, in developing high-performance transistors on a metallic substrate. The metal substrate not only reduces the heating of the semiconductor and effectively dissipates much of the heat, but also makes the device more stable.

The ever-increasing miniaturization of semiconductor devices is making our computers and cell phones smaller and more powerful, but it comes at a price. As more and more individual components are integrated into the smallest possible space, the packing density also increases. This makes it more difficult to dissipate the heat generated by the flow of current. This heat generation not only has a detrimental effect on the function of the components, but also on their service life. Efficient heat dissipation is therefore essential for the further development of circuits, especially when it comes to high computing speeds and performance. New concepts are therefore required - such as metallic carrier materials for semiconductor components.

Forschungszentrum Jülich / Martin Mikulics

"Metals are very good heat conductors," explains Hilde Hardtdegen from the Peter Grünberg Institute in Jülich. "But until now, they have not been considered as carrier materials. Different chemical and physical properties and, above all, differences in the crystal lattice made it impossible to deposit monocrystalline semiconductor layers on metallic substrates using conventional methods."

Effective heat dissipation is the key

Jülich scientists have now succeeded in doing this for the first time, together with colleagues from Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Australia. "The crucial factor here was that we lowered the temperature required for the deposition process," Hardtdegen explains. "In particular, we had to ensure controlled heating and cooling of the samples. This allowed us to prevent mechanical stresses from building up at the interface between the metallic substrate and the semiconductor layer."

Forschungszentrum Jülich

From airplanes to cell phones

The potential applications for such a metallic carrier material are many and varied: high-performance electronics for mobile radio networks, components for the automotive and aircraft industries, even everyday devices such as cell phones or tablets - in fact, anywhere where heat generation can have a detrimental effect on the function of devices.

Dr. Hilde Hardtdegen with the semiconductor/metal substrate chip with finished transistor arrayDr. Hilde Hardtdegen with the semiconductor/metal substrate chip with finished transistor array
Forschungszentrum Jülich / Martin Mikulics

But this is still pie in the sky. "The processes optimized in the laboratory would of course have to be adapted to the requirements of mass production, and likewise to the respective technical specifications for various end products," says Hardtdegen. "Above all, stability and repeatability still need to be specifically optimized." The scientists' most optimistic estimate for an actual application of their development is five to seven years.

Original publication:

M. Mikulics, P. Kordos, A. Fox, M. Kocan, H. Lüth, Z. Sofer, H. Hardtdegen, Efficient heat dissipation in AlGaN/GaN heterostructure grown on silver substrate, Appl. Mater Today vol. 7 pp. 134 – 137, 2017

DOI: 10.1016/j.apmt.2017.02.008

Semiconductor/Metal Substrate Chip with Finished Transistor ArraySemiconductor/Metal Substrate Chip with Finished Transistor Array
Forschungszentrum Jülich / Martin Mikulics

Further information:

Peter Grünberg Institute, Semiconductor Nanoelectronics (PGI-9)


Dr. Hilde Hardtdegen
Peter Grünberg Institute, Semiconductor Nanoelectronics (PGI-9) Tel.: +49 2461 61-2360

Press contact:

Dr. Regine Panknin
Corporate communications
Tel.: +49 2461 61-9054

Last Modified: 12.08.2022