X-FAB Cooperating with IHP to Advance SiGe BiCMOS Technology

Article By : Nitin Dahad

X-FAB Silicon Foundries and the Leibniz Institute's Innovations for High Performance Microelectronics (IHP) have announced a major industry-academic partnership that includes development of advanced SiGe BiCMOS technologies.

X-FAB Silicon Foundries and the Leibniz Institute’s Innovations for High Performance Microelectronics (IHP) have announced a major industry-academic partnership that includes development of advanced SiGe BiCMOS technologies.

The cooperation brings together X-FAB’s proficiency in semiconductor manufacture with IHP’s wireless communication expertise to enable mutually beneficial engineering synergies. The technologies developed by IHP and X-FAB will be suited to optoelectronics and 5G wireless communication systems, as well as innovative radar implementations.

IHP’s active devices will be directly integrated into the backend of line (BEOL) of X-FAB’s 130 nm XR013 RF-SOI process featuring Cu and thick-Cu based metallization, alongside high-performance passive elements, such as inductors and transformers. This integration will mean that a wide array of next generation wireless systems concepts can be experimented with.

X-FAB IHP Leibniz
Scanning electron microscope cross section of IHP SiGe BiCMOS Wafer with X-FAB Cu-BEOL (Source: X-FAB)

A key focus for the partnership is the development of advanced SiGe BiCMOS technologies. At the foundation of this will be IHP’s SiGe heterojunction bipolar transistors. These offer strong performance parameters, with fT/fmax figures of up to 250/340 GHz for SG13S-Cu and up to 300/500 GHz for SG13G2-Cu. The 3 µm thick low-loss copper interconnects employed are also certain to prove valuable in helping to boost RF performance levels.

“SiGe BiCMOS remains an attractive prospect for a number of wireless applications, including 5G, because it enables the integration of high-performance RF on a silicon-based platform. IHP and X-FAB both recognize the huge potential here,” said Greg U’Ren, director of RF technology at X-FAB. “The technologies that we are working on are the fruit of a synergistic relationship that leverages the respective strengths of each partner.”

Professor Gerhard Kahmen, scientific director at IHP, added, “This partnership enables us to transfer first class research into commercial applications laying ground for next generation high performance RF systems, such as 400G data communication, 60-300 GHz radars and sub-THz imaging.”

IHP carries out research and development on silicon-based systems and ultrahigh frequency circuits and technologies including new materials. It also develops solutions for application areas such as wireless and broadband communication, security, medical technology, industry 4.0, automotive industry, and aerospace. It employs around 350 people and operates a pilot line for technological developments and the preparation of high-speed circuits with 0.13/0.25 µm BiCMOS technologies, located in a 1500 m² DIN EN ISO 14644-1 class 3 cleanroom.

This article was originally published on EE Times Europe.

Nitin Dahad is a correspondent for EE Times, EE Times Europe and also Editor-in-Chief of embedded.com. With 35 years in the electronics industry, he’s had many different roles: from engineer to journalist, and from entrepreneur to startup mentor and government advisor. He was part of the startup team that launched 32-bit microprocessor company ARC International in the US in the late 1990s and took it public, and co-founder of The Chilli, which influenced much of the tech startup scene in the early 2000s. He’s also worked with many of the big names – including National Semiconductor, GEC Plessey Semiconductors, Dialog Semiconductor and Marconi Instruments.

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