Germanium wafers are used in semiconductor manufacturing for more efficient and faster development. They are utilized for developing multijunction photovoltaic cells and are well known for being able to increase speed in production of growth. Silicon-Germanium alloys can extend battery life of hand-held devices, as they consume less power than other alloys and also can lower the cost of wireless RFIC. These wafers are ideal for their efficiency in a number of applications.
Germanium wafers are great for the growth of cells. These include gallium arsenide as well as indium gallium arsenide, indium gallium phosphide, and, of course, geranium. In the process of fabricating gallium arsenide cells, the ratio must be done carefully, as gallium arsenide and germanium are of very different voltaic levels. Even with a well paired ratio, growing gallium arsenide on geranium can still result in defects, but overall, the efficiency for cell growth on germanium wafer is at a little over 30%. Labs are still working on methods in order to find a way to make germanium wafers more efficient and results have been able to produce efficiencies up to and above 40%. Germanium wafers, though not completely perfect, are on their way to higher efficiencies and capabilities.
Applications for germanium wafers extend beyond multijunction photovoltaic cells. It is most commonly used as silicon germanium in CMOS processing, as it is well used over the other technologies in this field. CMOS is one of the most expensive processes in the integrated circuit industry. Silicon geranium offers an enhanced efficiency rating as well as ultra high frequencies over 100GHz. These wafers are also ideal as they can integrate memory and digital signals better than a silicon wafer of the same dimensions. Germanium wafers are also highly used in automobiles, RF, data acquisition, and more.
Germanium wafers are able to work at such high speeds due to their physical properties. Germanium is a very good semiconductor element. Especially in the case of silicon on germanium, when the two combine, since both have similar properties in regards to their semi-conducting capabilities, they are able to form a substrate that functions perfectly as a high-speed transistor. They also have a number of different diameter options as is true with silicon wafers, and are able to conduct epitaxial growth faster than silicon wafers.
Germanium wafers are bound by certain applications and must have the right environment to function correctly, but can speed up processes as well as benefit efficiency drastically. Research is currently being done to boost the efficiency of germanium wafers, and should this happen, they will become upwards of 10% more efficient than they already are. They are used in multijunction photovoltaic cell production, CMOS, and many other industries. Germanium can also be combined with silicon to produce an even faster wafer, due to the chemical properties of both elements. They are able to speed up the process of epitaxial growth of certain elements. Should labs succeed in advancing the already efficient properties of germanium wafers, they could be making a much bigger impact on the semiconductor industry.