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SiGe ( /ˈsɪɡ/ or /ˈs/ ), or silicon-germanium, is an alloy with any molar ratio of silicon and germanium, i.e. with a molecular formula of the form Si1−xGex. It is commonly used as a semiconductor material in integrated circuits (ICs) for heterojunction bipolar transistors or as a strain-inducing layer for CMOS transistors. IBM introduced the technology into mainstream manufacturing in 1989. [1] This relatively new technology offers opportunities in mixed-signal circuit and analog circuit IC design and manufacture. SiGe is also used as a thermoelectric material for high temperature applications (>700 K).

Alloy mixture or metallic solid solution composed of two or more elements

An alloy is a combination of metals and of a metal or another element. Alloys are defined by a metallic bonding character. An alloy may be a solid solution of metal elements or a mixture of metallic phases. Intermetallic compounds are alloys with a defined stoichiometry and crystal structure. Zintl phases are also sometimes considered alloys depending on bond types.

Silicon Chemical element with atomic number 14

Silicon is a chemical element with symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard and brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre; and it is a tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member of group 14 in the periodic table: carbon is above it; and germanium, tin, and lead are below it. It is relatively unreactive. Because of its high chemical affinity for oxygen, it was not until 1823 that Jöns Jakob Berzelius was first able to prepare it and characterize it in pure form. Its melting and boiling points of 1414 °C and 3265 °C respectively are the second-highest among all the metalloids and nonmetals, being only surpassed by boron. Silicon is the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, but very rarely occurs as the pure element in the Earth's crust. It is most widely distributed in dusts, sands, planetoids, and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates. More than 90% of the Earth's crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust after oxygen.

Germanium Chemical element with atomic number 32

Germanium is a chemical element with symbol Ge and atomic number 32. It is a lustrous, hard, grayish-white metalloid in the carbon group, chemically similar to its group neighbours silicon and tin. Pure germanium is a semiconductor with an appearance similar to elemental silicon. Like silicon, germanium naturally reacts and forms complexes with oxygen in nature.



The use of silicon-germanium as a semiconductor was championed by Bernie Meyerson. [2] SiGe is manufactured on silicon wafers using conventional silicon processing toolsets. SiGe processes achieve costs similar to those of silicon CMOS manufacturing and are lower than those of other heterojunction technologies such as gallium arsenide. Recently, organogermanium precursors (e.g. isobutylgermane, alkylgermanium trichlorides, and dimethylaminogermanium trichloride) have been examined as less hazardous liquid alternatives to germane for MOVPE deposition of Ge-containing films such as high purity Ge, SiGe, and strained silicon. [3] [4]

Gallium arsenide chemical compound

Gallium arsenide (GaAs) is a compound of the elements gallium and arsenic. It is a III-V direct bandgap semiconductor with a zinc blende crystal structure.

Isobutylgermane chemical compound

Isobutylgermane (IBGe, Chemical formula: (CH3)2CHCH2GeH3), is an organogermanium compound. It is a colourless, volatile liquid that is used in MOVPE (Metalorganic Vapor Phase Epitaxy) as an alternative to germane. IBGe is used in the deposition of Ge films and Ge-containing thin semiconductor films such as SiGe in strained silicon application, and GeSbTe in NAND Flash applications.

Germane chemical compound

Germane is the chemical compound with the formula GeH4, and the germanium analogue of methane. It is the simplest germanium hydride and one of the most useful compounds of germanium. Like the related compounds silane and methane, germane is tetrahedral. It burns in air to produce GeO2 and water. Germane is a group 14 hydride.

SiGe foundry services are offered by several semiconductor technology companies. AMD disclosed a joint development with IBM for a SiGe stressed-silicon technology, [5] targeting the 65-nm process. TSMC also sells SiGe manufacturing capacity.

In July 2015, IBM announced that it had created working samples of transistors using a 7 nm silicon-germanium process, promising a quadrupling in the amount of transistors compared to a contemporary process. [6]

In semiconductor manufacturing, the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors defines the 7 nanometer (7 nm) node as the technology node following the 10 nm node. Single transistor 7 nm scale devices were first produced in the early 2000s. While some claim that the node designation of "7 nm" has no physical meaning beyond marketing purposes, others point to transistor density as the real important number that is represented by these designations. The 7 nm process offerings by Samsung and TSMC are the same as the 10 nm process offered by Intel, thus, what really matters beyond 10 nm is transistor density, not transistor size.

SiGe transistors

SiGe allows CMOS logic to be integrated with heterojunction bipolar transistors, making it suitable for mixed-signal circuits. [7] Heterojunction bipolar transistors have higher forward gain and lower reverse gain than traditional homojunction bipolar transistors. This translates into better low current and high frequency performance. Being a heterojunction technology with an adjustable band gap, the SiGe offers the opportunity for more flexible band gap tuning than silicon-only technology.

The heterojunction bipolar transistor (HBT) is a type of bipolar junction transistor (BJT) which uses differing semiconductor materials for the emitter and base regions, creating a heterojunction. The HBT improves on the BJT in that it can handle signals of very high frequencies, up to several hundred GHz. It is commonly used in modern ultrafast circuits, mostly radio-frequency (RF) systems, and in applications requiring a high power efficiency, such as RF power amplifiers in cellular phones. The idea of employing a heterojunction is as old as the conventional BJT, dating back to a patent from 1951. Detailed theory of heterojunction bipolar transistor was developed by Herbert Kroemer in 1957.

Bipolar junction transistor transistor that uses both electron and hole charge carriers.In contrast,unipolar transistors such as field-effect transistors,only use one kind of charge carrier.For their operation,BJTs use 2 junctions between 2 semiconductor types,n-type and p-type

A bipolar junction transistor is a type of transistor that uses both electron and hole charge carriers. In contrast, unipolar transistors, such as field-effect transistors, only use one kind of charge carrier. For their operation, BJTs use two junctions between two semiconductor types, n-type and p-type.

Band gap energy range in a solid where no electron states can exist; energy difference (in electron volts) between the top of the valence band and the bottom of the conduction band in insulators and semiconductors

In solid-state physics, a band gap, also called an energy gap or bandgap, is an energy range in a solid where no electron states can exist. In graphs of the electronic band structure of solids, the band gap generally refers to the energy difference between the top of the valence band and the bottom of the conduction band in insulators and semiconductors. It is the energy required to promote a valence electron bound to an atom to become a conduction electron, which is free to move within the crystal lattice and serve as a charge carrier to conduct electric current. It is closely related to the HOMO/LUMO gap in chemistry. If the valence band is completely full and the conduction band is completely empty, then electrons cannot move in the solid; however, if some electrons transfer from the valence to the conduction band, then current can flow. Therefore, the band gap is a major factor determining the electrical conductivity of a solid. Substances with large band gaps are generally insulators, those with smaller band gaps are semiconductors, while conductors either have very small band gaps or none, because the valence and conduction bands overlap.

Silicon Germanium-on-insulator (SGOI) is a technology analogous to the Silicon-On-Insulator (SOI) technology currently employed in computer chips. SGOI increases the speed of the transistors inside microchips by straining the crystal lattice under the MOS transistor gate, resulting in improved electron mobility and higher drive currents. SiGe MOSFETs can also provide lower junction leakage due to the lower band gap value of SiGe.[ citation needed ] However, a major issue with SGOI MOSFETs is the inability to form stable oxides with silicon germanium using standard silicon oxidation processing.

Silicon on insulator (SOI) technology refers to the use of a layered silicon–insulator–silicon substrate in place of conventional silicon substrates in semiconductor manufacturing, especially microelectronics, to reduce parasitic device capacitance, thereby improving performance. SOI-based devices differ from conventional silicon-built devices in that the silicon junction is above an electrical insulator, typically silicon dioxide or sapphire. The choice of insulator depends largely on intended application, with sapphire being used for high-performance radio frequency (RF) and radiation-sensitive applications, and silicon dioxide for diminished short channel effects in microelectronics devices. The insulating layer and topmost silicon layer also vary widely with application.

Transistor semiconductor device used to amplify and switch electronic signals and electrical power

A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power. It is composed of semiconductor material usually with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals controls the current through another pair of terminals. Because the controlled (output) power can be higher than the controlling (input) power, a transistor can amplify a signal. Today, some transistors are packaged individually, but many more are found embedded in integrated circuits.

Strain engineering refers to a general strategy employed in semiconductor manufacturing to enhance device performance. Performance benefits are achieved by modulating strain in the transistor channel, which enhances electron mobility and thereby conductivity through the channel.

Thermoelectric application

A silicon germanium thermoelectric device, MHW-RTG3, was used in the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft. [8] Silicon germanium thermoelectric devices were also used in other MHW-RTGs and GPHS-RTGs aboard Cassini, Galileo, Ulysses, and Flight Units F-1 and F-4. [9]

See also

Related Research Articles

Integrated circuit electronic circuit manufactured by lithography; set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece (or "chip") of semiconductor material, normally silicon

An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is a set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece of semiconductor material that is normally silicon. The integration of large numbers of tiny transistors into a small chip results in circuits that are orders of magnitude smaller, cheaper, and faster than those constructed of discrete electronic components. The IC's mass production capability, reliability and building-block approach to circuit design has ensured the rapid adoption of standardized ICs in place of designs using discrete transistors. ICs are now used in virtually all electronic equipment and have revolutionized the world of electronics. Computers, mobile phones, and other digital home appliances are now inextricable parts of the structure of modern societies, made possible by the small size and low cost of ICs.

A semiconductor material has an electrical conductivity value falling between that of a metal, like copper, gold, etc. and an insulator, such as glass. Their resistance decreases as their temperature increases, which is behaviour opposite to that of a metal. Their conducting properties may be altered in useful ways by the deliberate, controlled introduction of impurities ("doping") into the crystal structure. Where two differently-doped regions exist in the same crystal, a semiconductor junction is created. The behavior of charge carriers which include electrons, ions and electron holes at these junctions is the basis of diodes, transistors and all modern electronics. Some examples of semiconductors are silicon, germanium, and gallium arsenide. After silicon, gallium arsenide is the second most common semiconductor used in laser diodes, solar cells, microwave frequency integrated circuits, and others. Silicon is a critical element for fabricating most electronic circuits.

A semiconductor device is an electronic component that exploits the electronic properties of semiconductor material, principally silicon, germanium, and gallium arsenide, as well as organic semiconductors. Semiconductor devices have replaced vacuum tubes in most applications. They use electrical conduction in the solid state rather that the gaseous state or thermionic emission in a vacuum.

Monolithic microwave integrated circuit

A Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit, or MMIC, is a type of integrated circuit (IC) device that operates at microwave frequencies. These devices typically perform functions such as microwave mixing, power amplification, low-noise amplification, and high-frequency switching. Inputs and outputs on MMIC devices are frequently matched to a characteristic impedance of 50 ohms. This makes them easier to use, as cascading of MMICs does not then require an external matching network. Additionally, most microwave test equipment is designed to operate in a 50-ohm environment.

A MESFET is a field-effect transistor semiconductor device similar to a JFET with a Schottky (metal-semiconductor) junction instead of a p-n junction for a gate.

Strained silicon

Strained silicon is a layer of silicon in which the silicon atoms are stretched beyond their normal interatomic distance. This can be accomplished by putting the layer of silicon over a substrate of silicon germanium (SiGe). As the atoms in the silicon layer align with the atoms of the underlying silicon germanium layer, the links between the silicon atoms become stretched - thereby leading to strained silicon. Moving these silicon atoms farther apart reduces the atomic forces that interfere with the movement of electrons through the transistors and thus better mobility, resulting in better chip performance and lower energy consumption. These electrons can move 70% faster allowing strained silicon transistors to switch 35% faster.

Strained silicon directly on insulator (SSDOI) is a procedure developed by IBM which removes the silicon germanium layer in the strained silicon process leaving the strained silicon directly on the insulator. In contrast, strained silicon on SGOI provides a strained silicon layer on a relaxed silicon germanium layer on an insulator, as developed by MIT.

Aluminium gallium nitride (AlGaN) is a semiconductor material. It is any alloy of aluminium nitride and gallium nitride.

GeSbTe (germanium-antimony-tellurium or GST) is a phase-change material from the group of chalcogenide glasses used in rewritable optical discs and phase-change memory applications. Its recrystallization time is 20 nanoseconds, allowing bitrates of up to 35 Mbit/s to be written and direct overwrite capability up to 106 cycles. It is suitable for land-groove recording formats. It is often used in rewritable DVDs. New phase-change memories are possible using n-doped GeSbTe semiconductor. The melting point of the alloy is about 600 °C (900 K) and the crystallization temperature is between 100 and 150 °C.

Organogermanium compound any organic compound having germanium–carbon bond

Organogermanium compounds are organometallic compounds containing a carbon to germanium or hydrogen to germanium chemical bond. Organogermanium chemistry is the corresponding chemical science. Germanium shares group 14 in the periodic table with silicon, tin and lead, and not surprisingly the chemistry of organogermanium is in between that of organosilicon compounds and organotin compounds.

John D. Cressler American academic

John D. Cressler is a Georgia Tech professor and author.

Application of silicon-germanium thermoelectrics in space exploration

Silicon-germanium (SiGe) thermoelectrics have been used for converting heat into power in spacecraft designed for deep-space NASA missions since 1976. This material is used in the radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) that power Voyager 1, Voyager 2, Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini, and New Horizons spacecraft. SiGe thermoelectric material converts enough radiated heat into electrical power to fully meet the power demands of each spacecraft. The properties of the material and the remaining components of the RTG contribute towards the efficiency of this thermoelectric conversion.

Gary Patton

Dr. Gary Patton is an American technologist and business executive. He is currently the Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Worldwide Research and Development (R&D) at GlobalFoundries. He spent his early career at IBM, and he was appointed CTO of GlobalFoundries in 2015.


  1. Ouellette, Jennifer (June/July 2002). "Silicon–Germanium Gives Semiconductors the Edge" Archived 2008-05-17 at the Wayback Machine , The Industrial Physicist.
  2. B.S. Meyerson (March 1994). "Hi Speed Silicon Germanium Electronics". Scientific American, March 1994, Vol. 270.iii Pp. 42-47.
  3. E. Woelk; D. V. Shenai-Khatkhate; R. L. DiCarlo, Jr.; A. Amamchyan; M. B. Power; B. Lamare; G. Beaudoin; I. Sagnes (2006). "Novel Organogermanium MOVPE Precursors". Journal of Crystal Growth. 287 (2): 684–687. Bibcode:2006JCrGr.287..684W. doi:10.1016/j.jcrysgro.2005.10.094.[ dead link ]
  4. Deo V. Shenai; Ronald L. DiCarlo; Michael B. Power; Artashes Amamchyan; Randall J. Goyette; Egbert Woelk (2007). "Safer alternative liquid germanium precursors for relaxed graded SiGe layers and strained silicon by MOVPE". Journal of Crystal Growth. 298: 172–175. Bibcode:2007JCrGr.298..172S. doi:10.1016/j.jcrysgro.2006.10.194. Archived from the original on 2008-02-13.
  5. AMD And IBM Unveil New, Higher Performance, More Power Efficient 65nm Process Technologies At Gathering Of Industry’s Top R&D Firms retrieved at March 16, 2007
  6. IBM Discloses Working Version of a Much Higher-Capacity Chip -
  7. Cressler, J. D.; Niu, G. (2003). Silicon-Germanium Heterojunction Bipolar Transistors. Artech House. p. 13.

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