Materials

IMS has a clear vision and profound capability to deliver practical solutions set by key discoveries and continuous development of advanced materials for superior properties. The Team's drive is deep-rooted throughout their extensive expertise in material sciences, microelectronics, optoelectronics, and technology innovation.  In particular, the focus has been placed on the exploitation of the following categories of materials that are synthesized and/or processed:

  • Wide-Bandgap (WBG) (nitride- and carbide-based) semiconductor compounds

  • Polymer-based nanocomposite materials

  • Conventional and refractory metals, composites, ceramics, and polymers 
     

Wide-Bandgap (WBG) (nitride-and carbide-based) Semiconductor Compounds:

The composition and configurations of the grown structures of a number of WBG compounds can be tailored with high precision to match the specifications needed for compact and rugged chemical, biomedical, and physical sensors.  Inherently, this category of materials is capable of providing superior optical, electrical, thermal, ionization, and chemical properties that can maintain reliable device performance and structural long-term stability within harsh environments.  A key advantage in working with this family of materials is their predisposition to accommodate a broad tunable spectral range bandwidth of light energy.   In addition, these compounds can be integrated into precise microstructures that form efficient, rugged, and cost effective microsystems.
 

Polymer-based Nanocomposites:

Equally vital are the development of specific engineered nanodielectric polymer-based materials, which are embedded with metal nanoparticles (NPs) that dramatically increase the dielectric constant of the insulator material and consequently the capacitance of the device containing them.  This category of materials constitutes a corner stone of a new outlook for market-driven capacitor devices for renewable energy generation and energy storage.  
 

Conventional and Refractory Metals, Composites, Ceramics, and Polymers:

Modifications to properties of material surfaces are widely-sought processes in different industries.  Uniquely, IMS has developed a proprietary laser-induced process to modify large area surfaces of a number of materials, including conventional and refractory metals, alloys and ceramics, advanced composites, and polymers.  The formed morphology of these surfaces can dramatically alter the optical, mechanical and thermal properties of these materials.  A new forefront of applications geared towards the improvement of materials bonding, highly efficient heat-exchange management, and development of stable optical surfaces with highly absorptive and radiative characteristics suitable for more efficient detectors and calibration sources.

Our ability to innovate, synthesize, process, test, and characterize these types of materials is an asset we intend to grow and to share with other parties, who have interest to commercialize any of the mature technologies that we are developing.

Our Capabilities relating to materials focuses on:

  • Synthesis & Processing

  • Testing & Characterization
     

Synthesis & Processing:

Creation of well-defined and engineered semiconductor microsystems demand advanced synthesis techniques, such as Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE), Chemical Beam Epitaxy (CBE), and Plasma-Assisted Physical Vapor Deposition (PA PVD).  At IMS, we excel in growing high quality single-phase materials across a full range of binary and ternary group III nitrides on c-plane, a-plane, and m-plane sapphire and (111) silicon (Si) substrates.  For all R&D exploratory activities, our Radio Frequency MBE (RF-MBE) chamber (reactor) is utilized for depositing precise thin crystalline films.  MBE, CBE, and PVD methods allow for simple integration of molecular sources for the growth process.  Spectrally-tailored materials can be synthesized with different microstructures and stacking configurations on the same substrate.  This capability provides a more powerful design tool to implement a set of targeted material properties that can define more versatile devices.   Recent results from InxGa1-xN growth have demonstrated films with bandgap energies tuned from 3.3 eV to 1.8 eV, which spectrally covers a range of (375-690) nm.  

For applications that utilize advanced optoelectronic sensors, designers demand more intriguing subsystem architects to utilize the more sophisticated components like Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), photodetectors, and energy generating solar cells.  The team at IMS has acquired an in-depth know-how in developing a number of unique structures, devices, and systems, using single crystalline layers of group III nitride semiconductor materials, such as Aluminum Nitride (AlN), Aluminum Gallium Nitride (AlGaN), Gallium Nitride (GaN), Indium Gallium Nitride (InGaN), and Indium Nitride (InN) grown on Silicon (Si), Sapphire, as well as Silicon Carbide (SiC) substrates.  These materials are known for their high temperature stability, tolerance to high ionization radiation, corrosion resistance, and handling a wide spectral range extending over UV/VIS/NIR optical radiation bands.  All of our MBE growth processes are monitored in real time by spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE), which provides for real time monitoring and feedback of thin film deposition, including thickness, surface stoichiometry, and surface quality.

For energy storage applications, IMS has been successful in synthesizing super-hard advanced ceramic materials with a bandgap around 5.0 eV, such as Boron Nitride (BN), BoronOxiNitride (BON), and Carbon Nitride (CN) thin films.  These materials can function at high temperature, high power, and high radiation conditions. Of particular interest, is the synthesis of innovative nanodielectric composites, based on embedding of metal nanoparticles (NPs) in polymer matrix, which is used in high-k and enhanced dielectric strength materials for energy storage solutions.

For material processing capabilities, IMS  extends its expertise to cover all processing associated with growing structures using Reactive Ion Etching (RIE) and standard photolithography techniques for forming unique material structures, E-beam evaporation, and sputtering for fabricating metal contacts, dicing,  assembly, and microbonding for packaging.

In addition to the deposition-based processes, IMS, Inc. has developed a proprietary surface processing technique, which allows for the modification of large areas (several sq. ft.) of conventional and refractory metals, ceramics, metal alloys, composites, and polymer-based materials.  Unique micro/nano-scale formed structures, which alter the surface morphology, can be induced using proprietary laser-based advanced techniques.  The modified surfaces open up a new array of applications for new products with superior properties and specifications. The resulting effect of this laser-based processing technique is the formation of uniformly distributed microstructures defined as Micro-Column Arrays (MCA).  This process allows for the increase of the material surface area (more than ten folds), which is beneficial for a large variety of applications that involve bonding of similar, very dissimilar, and high-temperature materials.  Additionally, the high density microstructure with the drastically increased surface area makes it a prime configuration for efficient heat dissipation at sites with high heat density.  Yet in another application, such surface modification also increases the optical absorbance by over 90%.  Such surface, resistant to high temperatures and harsh environments can be successfully employed in rugged blackbody simulators.  The MCA structured sharp micro tip surfaces can be also used for dramatic enhancements of field emission properties, if fabricated on materials with low or negative electron affinity.
 

Testing & Characterization:

IMS team has established a high level proficiency to rigorously adhere to a methodical, scientific, and well-engineered array of tests and characterization schemes.  The team has access to a state-of-the-art test equipment and instrumentation to facilitate these activities.  IMS routinely performs materials and device characterizations, from basic material properties (structural, elemental, optical, and electrical) to specific optoelectronic device performance testing.  High resolution X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) techniques are used to evaluate the structural properties of fabricated layers.  Elemental characterization is conducted using X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) and Time of Flight Mass Spectroscopy (TOFMS).  Optical properties of layers are probed by photoluminescence (PL), transmittance/absorbance, and spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE).  

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