I have to praise the organising committee as they have again chosen a really beautiful city for the location of the conference in Austin.
The conference has been attended by over 400 people from all over the world; the exhibition space was fully occupied with an excellent foot fall through the hall. Our stand looked great, being biased it was the best looking one plus clearly showed where we have solutions for the CS Markets.
The majority of the talks were using GaN as the major material set, the substrate that this is on was the variable, SiC was the major one for its thermal capability from RF to power applications. A substrate material that was presented several times was diamond which has better thermal properties then SiC. From memory there were more talks using it this year compared to last so need to keep an eye on this trend. I should mention that a team from Oxford University, Element Six and Bristol University which is local to where we are based won an award for their paper on GaN on Diamond in 2017, great to see the UK is still pushing the boundaries, well done to them.
Surprising for me InP was not high on the agenda as I believe this has a lot to offer hopefully its going under the GaN powered radar! For items like LIDAR we need multi-watts of power, VCSELs would need an array, InP probably can deliver this plus as we move to the cloud data centres will need it in large quantities. Time to get off my soap box!
There was a whole session on Acoustic Filters showing that this is a very fast growing market plus key to ensuring when I get my 5G phone, autonomous car and I have everything in my house connected to the a wireless network that they receive the right signal without cross talk etc.
The two thrusts on this was the argument around the use of Single Crystal (SC) AlN as the piezo material vs the current incumbent Polycrystalline (PC) AlN. The other one was the need to get the device size down as a 5G phone will need around 40 of these in it to ensure that it with will work with frequencies it is subjected to. My take on this SC gives better Q factor and seems to have a small package size but PC is good enough possible cheaper and they have repackaged the device to get the size down by 40%.
While this was on there was an interesting talk on Neutral Beam for damage-free etch technology. We need to get our technologist to go over this one.
My last take from the conference is for anyone who still thinks CS is a small market there is currently over 1 trillion devices shipped a year. Doing the maths correctly all this equals to around 2.7 billion a day. We’ve got James from Qorvo to thank for these facts. We all rely on these every day and they will have an increasing impact on our lives from IoT to autonomous cars.
With all this in happening I did take a picture in the hall but it was between talks hopefully they will let me back next year!
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Author: Robert Gunn