Researchers from CNRS France and ETH Zurich have succeeded in producing high-performance high-electron-mobility transistors (HEMTs) made of gallium nitride (GaN) on a silicon(110) wafer. This makes these transistors compatible with current complementary metal oxide semi-conductor (CMOS) chips based on silicon of the same crystal orientation. CMOS chips are generally produced on silicon wafers with the so-called (100) or (110) crystal orientation. GaN, on the other hand, could previously only be used on (111)-silicon until now.
This new development makes it possible to construct hybrid electronic components that combine the computational power of the CMOS chip and the power handling capability of GaN transistors, which means power electronics can be made even more compact. Transistors are used in high-voltage circuits, for computation, and to amplify electrical radio-frequency signals. Until now they have predominantly consisted of silicon. However, electrical engineers recently began to exploit the advantages of gallium nitride for the construction of power electronics to develop faster, heat-resistant and above all energy-efficient transistors.