IQE expertise applied to US government program to develop Carbon Electronics for RF Applications (CERA)

23 September 2008

Cardiff, 23 September 2008: IQE, the leading global supplier of advanced semiconductor wafer products and wafer services to the semiconductor industry, is pleased to announce that its Pennsylvania based operation is to take part in the development of a new generation of carbon-based, radio-frequency (RF) integrated circuits as part of the Carbon Electronics for RF Applications (CERA) program. The work, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), will exploit the unique qualities of graphene carbon-based RF technology to create a new generation of components that will enable unprecedented capabilities in high-bandwidth communications, imaging, and radar systems.

IQE is part of an HRL-lead team consisting of commercial, university and military research establishments under the CERA program to develop wafer-scale graphene synthesis approaches focused on enabling ultra-high-speed, low-power graphene-channel field effect transistors (FETs). The CERA program will culminate in a demonstration of high performance W-band (> 90 GHz) low noise amplifiers, making use of graphene transistors on wafers with diameters greater than or equal to 8 inches and with cross wafer yields of better than 90% to assure the cost effectiveness of this technology.

Graphene is quite different from most conventional three-dimensional materials and is often referred to as a “semi-metal” or “zero-gap semiconductor” and comprises a one-atom-thick layer carbon atoms that are densely packed in a honeycomb crystal lattice. The program team proposes to use advanced epitaxial processes to grow an organized layer of bandgap-engineered graphene carbon crystals on silicon-based wafers to create more efficient, scalable, and cheaper-to-manufacture transistors.

Steve Gergar, VP and General Manager of IQE’s Bethlehem, Pennsylvania business said:

“Graphene is an exciting new material for future generation, ultra-high speed, ultra-low power consumption radio frequency (RF) components for specialist applications. The use of highly advanced materials such as graphene is essential in developing components for the next generation of sophisticated military imaging systems and high-bandwidth communications systems”

The CERA program started in July 2008 and is expected to be completed by September 2012.


IQE Inc (+1 610 861 6930)
Amy Liu

IQE plc (+44 29 2083 9400)
Chris Meadows


IQE plc is this year celebrating its twentieth anniversary as the leading global supplier of advanced semiconductor wafers with products that cover a diverse range of applications. It is able to provide a 'one stop shop' for the wafer needs of the world's leading compound semiconductor manufacturers, who in turn use these wafers to make the chips which form the key components of virtually every high technology system. IQE has particular focus on the growing global wireless sector for applications including; mobile handsets, wireless infrastructure, Wi-Fi, WiMAX, base stations, GPS and satellite communications; as well as for the optical communication sector including; optical storage (CD, DVD), laser optical mice, laser printers & photocopiers, thermal imagers, leading-edge medical products, bar-coding, high efficiency LEDs and advanced solar cells.

The manufacturers of these chips are increasingly seeking to outsource wafer production to specialist foundries such as IQE in order to reduce overall wafer costs and accelerate time to market. IQE is unique in being able to supply wafers using all of the leading crystal growth technology platforms including Metal Organic Vapour Phase Epitaxy (MOVPE) and Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) and the Group is able to leverage its global purchasing volumes to reduce the cost of raw materials.

IQE also provides bespoke R&D services to deliver customized materials for specific applications and offers specialist technical staff to manufacture to specification either at its own facilities or on the customer's own sites. This is backed by a strategy of duplicating each key product processes over multiple sites to assure customers of security of supply as well as provide compelling customer benefits in terms of flexibility and predictability of cost, thereby significantly reducing operating risk.

IQE operates six manufacturing facilities; two in Cardiff and one in Milton Keynes in the UK; two more in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Somerset, New Jersey in the USA; and its most recent acquisition in Singapore. The Group also has 11 sales offices located in major economic centres worldwide.