No sooner has the dust settled on CNET's jaw-dropping iPhone 12 drop test than another rival has stepped up to claim its alternative "glass" for protecting electronics like phones and smartwatches is three times harder than the iPhone's ceramic screen. Why? Because it's made of diamond. Specifically, diamond glass.
Let's back up for a minute. The iPhone 12 uses a brand-new material to protect its delicate display (that's the panel beneath the "glass" that lights up the pixels you see on your screen). Called Ceramic Shield, the new glass topper is made by Corning, the same company that makes the new Gorilla Glass Victus cover material used on Samsung's Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Apple, which worked with Corning to formulate Ceramic Shield just for the iPhone, claims this substance is "tougher than any smartphone glass." Based on the results of our drop test, that could well be true.
Ceramic Shield is a type of translucent, chemically strengthened glass that's superheated until it's incredibly hard. So what's diamond glass? From the samples we've seen over the last several years, diamond glass is also just as transparent and reflective as you'd want from the top layer protecting your electronics.
But since it's made from crystalline diamond, one of the hardest known structures, manufacturers have looked to the substance as an alternative to "regular" glass, which can still crack, break and scratch despite undergoing a process to chemically strength it.
This material in particular, called Miraj Diamond Glass, uses lab-grown diamond nanomaterials that are so incredibly small, they can be sprayed in an ultrathin layer on top of either glass or plastic to make a much harder surface. In theory, Miraj Diamond Glass could even top ultrathin foldable glass like the kind found on the Galaxy Z Fold 2.
On paper, diamond glass is inherently harder than ceramic glass like the iPhone 12's Ceramic Shield and Schott Ceran Miradur, which is used on cooktops, simply because the properties of diamond nanocrystal will score higher on industry-standard scales of hardness and pressure than ceramic glass. Schott's website even claims its ceramic glass is "almost as hard as a diamond" (my emphasis).
To prove the advantage of its material -- which is not yet available in a commercial product -- Akhan Semiconductor commissioned a lab at Northwestern University that works with nanotechnology to use microindentation testing, a standard way to examine a material's hardness at a microscopic level, using an indenter tool made from none other than diamond, one of the hardest materials on Earth.
The result? The claim that Miraj Diamond Glass cover material sprayed onto ceramic glass is over three times harder than any ceramic glass alone could ever be -- including the iPhone 12's topper. (According to Akhan Semiconductor's graph, below, ceramic glass measures no more than 10 Gigapascals, a unit of pressure, compared to diamond glass, which measure over 36 Gigapascals.)
But here's a catch. The lab's microindentation test occurred before Apple launched the iPhone 12, which means that the claim remains theoretical for now. The true test would be a one-to-one comparison of Miraj Diamond Glass and Corning's Ceramic Shield on the same device -- in this case, two iPhone 12 devices, one as is and the other coated in an extra layer of hardened diamond dust.
That said, a microindentation test is only one measure of hardness, and one way to test all-around durability and strength. Drop tests, scratch tests and other torture tests would paint a more complete picture of how diamond glass would hold up against your real life accidents and abuses, including drops, scratches and other kinds of physical or temperature pressure.
We know that a material itself may behave one way when it's a flat rectangle on a piece of steel. But putting it on a device that curves, bends and stretches in spots can also change the forces that cause a material to act one way or another.
That's one reason why the corners of a phone screen often seem more susceptible to cracks and scratches, and it's what makes these real world exercises so important. Diamond glass has been one promising glass alternative for the last several years. But until it sees daylight on a commercial device, it won't have a chance to truly shine.
CHICAGO--AKHAN Semiconductor, manufacturer of the world’s first diamond smartphone screen, announced today the debut of its newly formulated nanocrystalline diamond display glass technology. The next generation of Miraj Diamond® Glass technology is optimal for smartphones, watches, tablets, and any technology utilizing a screen or glass display. Miraj Diamond® Glass and Miraj Diamond® Glass Ceramic materials have been tested by Northwestern NUANCE facility which confirmed that Miraj Diamond® Glass Ceramic materials are over 3X harder than the latest Corning Ceramic Shield and Schott’s Ceran and Miradur Ceramic Glass materials--where Ceramic Glass materials measure in the 9 to 10 Gigapascal range and Miraj Diamond® Glass Ceramic materials measure over 36 Gigapascals.
AKHAN Miraj Diamond® Glass materials improve the physical properties of the display glass materials they are deposited on, and can be applied to virtually any glass, from smartphones to smartwatches, automotive displays and large area applications like 8KTVs to make them more resistant to scratches & breakage- including Corning’s glass materials. The commercial-ready Miraj Diamond® Glass is also available in non-chemically hardened display glass so it directly competes in price, as well as performance, with Corning glass materials. Currently, AKHAN’s commercial-ready Miraj Diamond® Glass is being tested by leading smartphone manufacturers.
“To prove the toughness of its Miraj Diamond® technology, AKHAN recently conducted a steel ball drop/toughness test against Corning’s Gorilla Glass. An industry standard test, AKHAN not only proved that its Miraj Diamond® technology was stronger than Gorilla Glass, but could also improve Tesla’s Cybertruck glass, which is made up of a combination of glass and advanced polymer layered composite material. Tesla’s Cybertruck failed a similar steel ball test.
To conduct the test, AKHAN first dropped a 0.874 inch steel ball weighing 1.5 ounces from a distance of 3 inches on a 4X4 inch piece of standard Gorilla Glass. Then, AKHAN again dropped the same steel ball from the same distance on a 4X4 piece of Gorilla Glass that was coated with the next generation Miraj Diamond® coating. A video of the test, which shows the standard Gorilla Glass shattering and the Miraj Diamond® coated glass staying completely intact, can be viewed here.
“Since the Cybertruck demo, we’ve received many requests for a similar steel ball toughness test demonstration. Our Miraj Diamond® Glass coating can be applied to nearly any glass, so the same improvements to toughness seen on smartphone displays also translate to better performance from smartwatch, VR, and automotive display glass, and yes, even automotive window glass,” said Adam Khan, Founder & CEO of AKHAN Semiconductor. “What always bothered us about competitor drop test videos is that they always test their glass inside a frame or phone, where the frame is absorbing a good deal of the drop force. We wanted a head-to-head comparison where the glass absorbs all of the drop energy, and as you can see, the Gorilla Glass literally explodes out under the same force. The results are in - Miraj Diamond® Glass is the toughest in the industry.”
“If we did a demonstration throwing a steel ball, like Tesla did with the Cybertruck, naysayers might remark ‘They threw the ball at different strengths/speeds,’” said Carl Shurboff, AKHAN President & COO. “Here, the results are unambiguous and undeniable.” Conducted by Northwestern University’s NUANCE Center, the third-party testing of AKHAN’s Miraj Diamond® Glass included Young’s modulus and Vicker’s hardness testing, which are industry standard for testing a material’s strength and hardness, respectively.
Materials Toughness is often defined as the kinetic energy (per unit volume) required to cause failure of a sample. In the demonstration, both samples are the same dimensions (100mm X 100mm), where the only difference between sample A (the uncoated Gorilla Glass) and sample B (the Miraj Diamond® coated Gorilla Glass) is 100 nanometers of AKHAN formulated nanocrystalline diamond thin film. Since the drop height and ball mass are kept constant throughout testing, the samples see identical energy exerted (namely the mass of the steel ball x gravitational acceleration x height).
AKHAN Semiconductor, a technology company specializing in the fabrication and application of lab-grown, electronic-grade diamonds, announced today that it has been issued a patent by the United States Patent Office (USPTO) generally related to systems and methods for transparent diamond electronics.
More particularly, issued patent, 10,760,157, AKHAN’s ninth US patent, addresses the Company’s system and method for providing thin film diamond coatings for transparent electronic component materials, like displays and lenses. The system and method allow for the fabrication of an improved glass component system, with respect to hardness, strength and hydrophobic design requirements.
“There are many characteristics that make diamond favorable for semiconductor performance, including better electronic display screens,” said Adam Khan, Founder and CEO of AKHAN Semiconductor. “This latest patent adds to the intellectual property portfolio safeguarding our innovations within AKHAN’s Miraj Diamond® Glass products, which can be applied to smartphone screens, automobile displays counsels and other electronics to make them ultra-hard, as well as scratch and water resistant. With the market interest, initial productization, and the quite public attempted infringement by the well-known Chinese Telecomm giant Huawei, the value of this patent and the portfolio is appreciably large.”
AKHAN’s Miraj Diamond® Glass utilizes lab grown, thin-film diamond specially tuned for optical application. The resultant structures show dramatic improvement to performance, reliability, and aesthetics, with third party testing verifying Miraj Diamond® Glass performance to be more than six times stronger, 10 harder and over 800 times cooler than leading flagship competitor glass.
BRIAN SANTO: I’m Brian Santo, EE Times editor-in-chief. You’re listening to EE Times On Air, and this is your Weekly Briefing for the week ending July 31st.
In this episode…Congress has been working on legislation to revive semiconductor manufacturing in the US. This week, we interview Adam Khan, founder of Akhan Semiconductor, which specializes in diamond ICs; he is joined by one of his company’s board members – vice admiral Charles Moore, former Commander of the US Fifth Fleet. We talk about how Congress might be missing an opportunity to encourage innovation in ICs based on semiconductors other than silicon, about manufacturing capabilities in general, about the requirements of the US military for advanced electronics, and about the impetus for some of the legislation being proposed in the first place.
Also, Intel CEO Bob Swan set off a furor when he intimated that Intel might stop developing new process technologies. We discuss what might mean for semiconductor manufacturing in the US, and we also consider how Intel might prosper by going in the complete other direction.
For pretty much all of human economic history, manufacturing operations have tended to move to wherever it’s cheapest for them to be. Given that, it seems perfectly reasonable that most semiconductor manufacturing, which began in the United States, is now done elsewhere. But then the Trump Administration started a trade war against China, and then the novel coronavirus led to a global shutdown.
The effects of that double whammy on the supply chain is convincing a growing number of Americans that perhaps cost should not be the only factor when America decides where to physically put manufacturing resources.
The Trump Administration has extended an invitation to TSMC, the world’s top foundry, to set up an advanced fab in the US. Congress, meanwhile, has been proposing legislation to encourage a revival of US semiconductor manufacturing. One of those is the proposed CHIPS for America Act, which allocates $20 billion to at least partially defray some of the additional costs of domestic manufacturing. Legislators are clued in well enough to understand that simply building a fab or two is not going to cut it; some of the funds they are allocating are for packaging, assembly, and other ecosystem elements critical to support a domestic IC manufacturing base.
That said, there might be a few things overlooked in America’s efforts to revive domestic IC manufacturing. One of those might be a failure to pay enough attention to semiconductors other than silicon. Gallium nitride and silicon carbide are becoming increasingly useful in power electronics, as is diamond. Yes, diamond. Their advantage of all three of those semiconductors is that, compared to silicon, they are all wide bandgap materials.
Akhan Semiconductor specializes in circuitry built using diamond. We’re about to hear from Adam Khan, the founder and CEO of the company. Khan provides input to various government, business and technology groups on the semiconductor industry and on US competitiveness. He is joined here by Vice Admiral Charles Moore, who goes by his middle name, Willy. Willy Moore started his career as a Navy aviator. He became commander of the US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, and he retired as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Fleet Readiness and Logistics in 2004. He subsequently worked with Lockheed Martin, and you’ll hear him refer to his experience with the F-35 fighter program later on. He joined Akhan’s board of directors about a year ago.
The Department of Defense is one of the organizations in the United States most keenly interested in the efforts to revive domestic semiconductor manufacturing. I asked Admiral Moore about his experiences with sourcing critical technology.
WILLY MOORE: I can tell you, in my experience, in the early part of my career everything we owned and operated — whether it was airplanes or weapons or tooling or you name it — was made and manufactured here in the United States. And then we got into Desert Storm, and I was working on the Navy’s staff in Washington at the time. And we discovered that one of our optical sensors was actually being made outside the country. It was a component of an optical sensor. And that country decided to cut it off. And we went into a major emergency to stand up a US supplier and get them into operation. And we came within a few hundred laser-guided bombs of going out of stock for those weapons. And that was a wake-up call at that time for the Department of Defense. I don’t know what the status is today, but I would bet you, if you catalogued every single critical component that we would need for war fighting efforts, we would find God knows how many items that we don’t really have control of the supply chain. So if you interviewed all of the commanders, they would say with metaphysical certainty, “We want absolute control of our supply chain.”
BRIAN SANTO: That doesn’t necessarily mean literally everything the DOD wants to use has to be made in America. Admiral Moore went on to explain that the US has a network of allies who are manufacturing partners.
WILLY MOORE: What I would rather see us do is sort of draw a line that says, These countries are trusted allies, and we can bet our supply chain on them. But we need to look outside that group and be very, very specific and decide not to let critical items fall into the hands of those that we don’t totally trust.
BRIAN SANTO: Any large organization is liable to have a supply chain that is vast and exceedingly complex. Many enormous enterprises say they don’t fully understand their supply chains. I asked Admiral Moore if it’s even possible for the DOD to manage its entire supply chain.
WILLY MOORE: Managing the supply chain for the United States military is an absolute must. And all the factors have to be taking into consideration. I don’t think there’s much more critical than the semiconductor business. If you look at the foundation of where we get our most significant advantage, it’s in our weapons systems. We’ll go to war with airplanes that probably operate at a deficit on aerodynamic performance, but we make it up with our weapons systems performance and our pilot skills. So what we’re working on at Akhan is fundamental to the long-term future readiness of the military.
And the other advantage we have is developing new systems for the future. If we can find a technology like Akhan diamond technology that can give us faster, cooler, cheaper semiconductors in our avionics systems, we can really enhance our capability going forward. So I hear your question and your comment. It’s a difficult task. It’s one we’ve been doing for many, many years. We’ll continue to do it. But I don’t think it’s that difficult to identify those items that are absolutely crucial to us. And one of them is the semiconductor business. I didn’t even mention the sort of optical sensor. We’ve got a whole host of capabilities diamond could enhance.
BRIAN SANTO: We asked Adam Khan what the US should be doing if wants to keep better control of semiconductor technology. He noted that the US still dominates the semiconductor market, not because of manufacturing, but because of innovation.
ADAM KHAN: We have to continue to invest in R&D, innovation in EUV from a lithography perspective. And we have to invest in the capex rendering in extremely small geometries. So one of the things that the advanced materials do for us — and this includes gallium nitride and silicon carbide — specially diamond — is that we’re not reliant on such small geometries for equating performance, equating switching speed, equating processing speed. The investment wouldn’t be in this extreme UV and 7 nanometer and below processing, this would be reinvestment in the 200 millimeter wafer fabs that are already here not that need to be reshored. The ones that have the existing capability, the Crees of the world, the silicon carbides and gallium nitride providers are currently utilizing. Texas Instruments, etc. This allows us not only to use less to share some of the costs, but also the allies that you referenced across Europe similarly have an abundance of these types of fabs. So this changes it from single-digit fabs that currently render these small chips to now double-digit, triple-digit fabs that could share this burden. So I think we should move away from investing in reshoring these extreme small geometry jobs in silicon and rather invest in the 200 millimeter fab capability and invest in R&D and the wide bandgap.
BRIAN SANTO: That’s an entirely different set of companies with fabs that are not considered leading edge, but could be if we refocus on alternative semiconductors. Those companies include Global Foundries, SkyWorks, Texas Instruments, and Cree Semiconductor. I asked Kahn what his recommendations would be then.
ADAM KHAN: I would just make this comparison, that in the early 2000s the US Department of Energy put a mandate to have more energy-efficient wide bandgap materials. And because of this, we had the power inverters that started to go to the 1.2 Kv, with the target at 2 Kv. Without this, we wouldn’t have the electrical vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles that we have now. The power inverters would not have been manufactured. This wouldn’t have pushed that industry to include these materials to allow these cars to be mass manufactured. Look at the size of Tesla now in terms of the market. Hugely valued. And this is driven by the investments in power electronics and investing in silicon carbide and gallium nitride to achieve these targets. Now similarly, DARPA, through the Electronics Resurgence Initiative, has similarly pushed a mandate to have these type of performance thresholds using some of the wide bandgap materials. Or quite similarly to what happened with the American Foundries Act and the CHIPS Act, which is another one that’s currently being considered. Intel and the like lobbied DARPA to extend the silicon platform. So rather than investment and demonstrating it on the wide bandgap, it went back to continue the silicon platform, which really effectively just kicks the can down the road.
BRIAN SANTO: That’s not to say that US attention should shift away from silicon entirely, merely that its focus be expanded.
ADAM KHAN: No, I’m not recommending a hard seismic shift away from the silicon platform. I’m saying that already, through things like the TSV and 3D geometries on these circuits, we’re already incorporating other materials to make silicon more efficient. We’re already including structures to address the thermal limitations in silicon, in addition to some of the other issues. So we should be investing in these other materials. The bulk of the funds should go into include those material yields, capabilities. There’s a plurality of the nano materials. And well beyond the nano carbons. In addition to diamond. Of course, grapheme is a major electronics material. Carbon nano tubes. Silicon carbide. Investment should go to these materials as they’re doing the bulk of the silicon load. So I’m saying silicon is very important, but already these markets are moving away from pure silicon.
WILLY MOORE: I think one of the key issues here for this American Foundries Act is to make an investment in new materials, new technology, going forward to sort of guarantee that we maintain the leadership in this arena. We can rest assured that our competitors — and I’ll just mention one: China — are working 24/7 to try to bring this capability to bear. And we don’t want to be working from behind. We want to maintain our leadership. And this American Foundries Act should be directed, and in my opinion its priority should be, How do we not only bring this semiconductor industry back to a robust state in the United States, but how do we invest to develop the new semiconductors of the future? And that’s the Akhan diamond capability. It’s got to be in there in a big way, because we’re the guys that can do it. And if we don’t do it, the Chinese will.
BRIAN SANTO: Much of our conversation with Adam Khan and Willy Moore to this point was about military electronics. I asked them about the importance of leadership in commercial electronics.
WILLY MOORE: I think they go hand-in-glove. You don’t have to look any further than GPS, as an example, where we needed that kind of accuracy in our navigation, our capability in the military. We developed it; we fielded it. And now it is essential to the life most people on planet Earth, if you think about it. I find it stunning every time I go out and drive somewhere, that I don’t know how I could do it with a hand-held map. But that’s a fantastic example of how these technologies we develop in the military move into the commercial world. And I think in the case of diamond technology, there’s a ton of commercial applications that could be in the offing very soon.
BRIAN SANTO: Earlier we alluded to the differences between silicon other materials such as gallium nitride, silicon carbide, and diamond. One of the biggest differences is that those other materials have wider bandgaps. Silicon is dominant today in part because it is abundant, and in part because everyone understands how to work with it, and for those reasons and others, silicon is much cheaper compared to other semiconductors. A wide bandgap is a very useful characteristic in a semiconductor, but wide bandgap materials are at the moment more difficult to process and still more expensive. In some cases that extra effort and expense is worth it, if not absolutely necessary, however. That is especially so today in a growing number of power ICs. If you want to learn more about why and how, I encourage you to read our coverage of these technologies in EE Times, and in our sister publication, Power Electronics News. We’ve got some links on the podcast web page. Among the wide bandgap semiconductors, diamond has the highest power handling, the highest frequency capabilities, the fastest switching speeds, and the highest thermal conductance, Adam Khan explained. Diamond is being used in some power ICs in some automotive, aerospace, and defense applications, especially in places that are subject to high heat.
AKHAN Semiconductor, a technology company specializing in the fabrication and application of lab-grown, electronic-grade diamonds, announced today that it has been issued a patent by the United States Patent Office (USPTO) covering AKHAN’s diamond broad band mirror system and method.
The issued patent, No. US 10,725,214, is a key addition to AKHAN’s breakthrough Miraj Diamond® Optics portfolio and the Company’s eighth patent issued in the United States. The latest patent is generally related to broad band mirrors, and more particularly to a broad band mirror system and method that has at least one reflective metal layer and at least one diamond layer. Broad band mirrors are used in a number of applications, including those related to space telescopy, high energy weapon systems and communications. Prior broad band mirror systems and methods do not include a practical method and system for a broad band mirror having reflective metal and diamond layers.
"This patent is critical in enabling AKHAN to complete its optics portfolio with both lenses and mirrors," said Adam Khan, Founder and CEO of AKHAN Semiconductor. "Lenses are able to focus light while mirrors are able to reflect light. Typically, the mirror is made up of a thin metal that is unable to reflect high energy light without melting or exploding. With diamond, we’re able to have a true mirror, opening up the energy bandwidth and allowing our breakthrough tech to be applied to even more applications, including lasers for both industrial and defense use, as well as space and satellite communications."
AKHAN Miraj Diamond® Optics deliver the advantageous properties of bulk natural diamond in proprietary thin-films conducive for single and multilayer optical windows, mirrors, and lenses – enabling new capabilities such as enhanced erosion protection in extreme environments. With high optical transmissivity over broad wavelengths, AKHAN’s materials are well suited for applications ranging from Near UV-Visible to Far Infrared.
Originally developed for U.S. Army aircraft countermeasures, breakthrough nanocarbon material addresses the sensitivity, speed, cost, and manufacturing scalability associated with the presently available SARS-CoV2 testing devices.
As the world battles SARS-CoV2, the virus causing the global outbreak of the disease COVID-19 or the novel coronavirus, there’s an urgent, unprecedented, and unmet demand for rapid, sensitive, specific, and low-cost diagnosis of viral antigens. Currently, the sample time for the diagnostics systems being utilized for SARS-CoV2 testing take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. However, biosensing field-effect-transistor (Bio-FET) devices that include advanced nanocarbon materials, which have already been proven effective in the detection of SARS, Ebola, and Rotavirus, feature sample times of mere seconds
While Bio-FET applications are an attractive next-generation platform for highly selective and ultra-sensitive virus detection, major limitations have been attached to the sensitivity of device structures and large-scale manufacturability of the semiconductor materials utilized. Since these biosensor systems rely on semiconductor materials, inefficiencies could be addressed by applying advanced nanocarbon semiconductor materials. such as nanocrystalline diamond and graphene oxide.
Historically, this new age nanocarbon material has been a costly, time-consuming material to fabricate. But, thanks to recent scientific breakthroughs, it can now be manufactured in batch quality at a low cost. Bio-FET devices that utilize this higher-quality nanocarbon as a device material in place of previous iterations of graphene oxide (Fig. 2) avoid limitations such as: Graphene flaking: Since graphene is inherently a 2D material that’s only one atomic layer thick, it’s susceptible to flaking, which completely destroys the active part of semiconductors. When this thin layer of graphene is spread across a large surface, it’s very easy for atoms to pile on top of one another or split and bond to other materials. Because there’s no stronger covalent bond than carbon to carbon, when nanocarbon materials are used, the graphene won’t bond—or flake—with anything else because its already attached to its preferential atomic bonding partner, leading to an optimized chip. Surface oxidation: Bio-FET devices are highly sensitive because the semiconductors are much smaller than the actual virus its detecting. Therefore, when the virus sits on top of the graphene, it can detect it easily. Oxidation happens when oxygen bonds to the graphene, instead of the virus. The nanocarbon prevents that bond.
Originally developed for protective coatings of optical sensor/detector systems in Army aviation, this breakthrough nanocarbon material addresses the sensitivity, speed, cost, and manufacturing scalability associated with the presently available materials. In Bio-FET structures, a biosensor detects how electrical characteristics of systems change due to closeness or contact with analytes (Fig. 3).
A FET biosensor is comprised of a semiconductor channel, which connects the source and the drain terminals. The charged bio-molecule is attracted, immobilized, and then absorbed in the semiconductor, producing an electric field that changes the charge carrier density within the device. Nanocarbon semiconductor materials, such as graphene and nanocrystalline diamond, are particularly attractive as FET biosensor materials due to their superior electronic properties (both conductive and insulating), amphiphilicity (selectively hydrophobicor hydrophilic), biocompatibility, and chemical resistance.
While nanocarbon materials address the speed at which test results are provided, as well as manufacturing scalability, it will take more than a materials company to adequately fight the dreaded pandemic brought on by SARS-CoV2. To rapidly develop and proliferate this nanocarbon technology, and meet the global demand for faster, more affordable COVID-19 testing, partnerships must be made with labs and businesses that are already working on these biosensor applications for diagnostic systems targeting of SARS-CoV2.
GURNEE -- Akhan Semiconductor has filed U.S. patent requests to apply its Miraj Diamond nanocarbon materials technology for Biosensing Field Effect Transistor applications in virus detection.
The company plans to use its expertise in the manufacturing and design of nanocarbon materials for optics and semiconductor electronics systems to help alleviate the bottleneck in Bio-FET device systems, the company said in a statement.
"The major limitations of these Bio-FET systems have been the sensitivity of device structures and the large-scale manufacturability of the semiconductor materials utilized," said Akhan Founder and CEO Adam Khan. "As the global leader in diamond semiconductor, Akhan is uniquely positioned to alleviate these constraints."
Akhan has developed similar breakthrough solutions for customers in the military, defense and consumer electronics industries. The company is exploring partnerships with researchers and businesses working on biosensor applications for diagnostic systems targeting SARS-CoV-2, officials said.
CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AKHAN Semiconductor, a technology company specializing in the fabrication and application of lab-grown, electronic-grade diamond, today announced new major patent filings with the United States Patent & Trademarks Office (USPTO) to apply its Miraj Diamond® nanocarbon materials technology for Biosensing Field Effect Transistor (Bio-FET) applications in virus detection. By taking its core capabilities in manufacturing and design of nanocarbon materials for optics and semiconductor electronics systems, AKHAN will leverage its expertise and fabrication capabilities to alleviate the existing bottleneck in Bio-FET device systems. Utilizing breakthrough materials initially developed for protective coatings of optical sensor/detector systems in Army aviation, AKHAN can address the sensitivity, speed, cost, and manufacturing scalability associated with presently available materials.
Presently, there is an urgent, unprecedented, and unmet demand for rapid, sensitive, specific, and low-cost diagnosis of viral antigens such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Bio-FET devices based on direct virus immobilization on nanomaterials and two-dimensional sensor materials have already been demonstrated as an attractive next-generation platform for highly selective and ultra-sensitive detection of specific proteins and DNA sequences. Since AKHAN’s proprietary graphene and nanocrystalline diamond materials have been optimized for optical and electronic device application, their targeted use in biosensor applications is particularly attractive, owing to the material’s superior electronic properties, biocompatibility, and chemical resistance in ultrathin profiles.
"The sample time of the current systems utilized for COVID-19 testing are on the order of 5 to 15 minutes, where Bio-FET devices for the detection of SARS, Ebola, and Rota Virus have already been utilized with sample times on the order of a few seconds" said Adam Khan, CEO and Founder of AKHAN. "The major limitations of these Bio-FET systems have been the sensitivity of device structures and the large-scale manufacturability of the semiconductor materials utilized. As the global leader in diamond semiconductor, AKHAN is uniquely positioned to alleviate these constraints."
"With real-time results monitored through low-cost meters, our Bio-FET concept can be calibrated for this and other virus targets in both gas and liquid suspensions, focusing on end applications in point of care and environmental/enclosed room monitoring," said Carl Shurboff, President and COO of AKHAN Semiconductor. "With our cleanroom facility operational, we are capable of rapidly prototyping and developing this technology platform."
Since its inception, AKHAN has had great success demonstrating breakthrough solutions to customer pain points in military, defense, and consumer electronics applications. In an effort to rapidly develop and proliferate its technology globally, AKHAN is exploring partnerships with researchers and businesses working on biosensor applications for diagnostic systems targeting SARS-CoV-2.
AKHAN Semiconductor Inc of Gurnee, IL, USA – which was founded in 2013 and specializes in the fabrication and application of lab-grown, electronics-grade diamond as functional semiconductors – has been issued a patent by the European Patent Office (EPO) covering its next-generation n-type diamond semiconductor system and diamond-based multi-layer anti-reflective coating systems (key components in military & aerospace sensor and detector applications), amongst other applications.
Patent no. 2737112 is another addition to AKHAN’s Miraj Diamond intellectual property portfolio, and the firm’s first European-issued patent.
Integration of high-quality diamond into semiconductor electronics applications and multi-layer materials can yield next-generation electronic performance and optical components with ultra-hardness, scratch-resistance, high thermal conductivity, hydrophobicity, chemical and biological inertness, and with high transmittance at a variety of critical angles, says AKHAN.
“Over the past few months, AKHAN has been issued a number of patents from around the world, and this latest from the European Union is further proof that we’re world leaders in producing diamond technology for semiconductor application,” reckons founder & CEO Adam Khan. “Diamond is proven to be the ideal material for semiconductors and crucial to making next-generation electronics faster, more powerful and lightweight,” he adds. “Now that we’ve been issued the European patent, we look forward to building further relationships with various partners from across the continent who can benefit from this generational technology.”
CHICAGO, Jan. 30, Businesswire-- AKHAN Semiconductor, a technology company specializing in the fabrication and application of lab-grown, electronic-grade diamonds, announced today that it has been issued a patent by the United States Patent Office (USPTO). The patent covers AKHAN’s new and improved system and method for fabricating monolithically integrated diamond semiconductors.
The issued patent, No. US 10,546,749 B2, is a key addition to AKHAN’s breakthrough Miraj Diamond® intellectual property portfolio. It is the Company’s seventh patent issued in the U.S. and is generally related to semiconductor fabrication methods, and more particularly to a method of fabricating diamond semiconductors. Diamond possess favorable theoretical semiconductor performance characteristics; however, practical diamond-based semiconductor device applications remain limited because of difficulties associated with fabricating quality n-type layers in diamond. AKHAN’s newest patent discloses a new and improved system and method for fabricating diamond semiconductors. It includes the steps of seeding the surface of a substrate material, forming a diamond layer upon the surface of the substrate material, and forming a semiconductor layer within the diamond layer, wherein the diamond semiconductor of the semiconductor layer has n-type donor atoms and a diamond lattice.
“Our newest patent is further validation that AKHAN Semiconductor is the world leader in fabricating lab-grown diamonds that significantly enhance the capabilities of technologies across all industries, from consumer electronics like the phone in your pocket, to the military and defense systems that protect our great nation,” said Adam Khan, Founder and CEO of AKHAN Semiconductor. “Through this new and improved system, we are able to more efficiently develop lab-grown diamond technology that performs exceptionally better than the market-leading materials commonly used today.”
AKHAN’s flagship Miraj Diamond® Technology is capable of increasing power density and creating faster, lighter and simpler electronic devices for consumer, industrial and defense use. Cheaper and thinner than its silicon counterparts, diamond-based materials are on their way to becoming the industry standard for energy-efficient electronics.
One company is pursuing the idea of making bendable phone screens from one of the hardest materials on Earth.
Foldable phones like the Galaxy Fold have a big problem -- the screen. Today's phones use plastic cover materials, but bendable glass is the Holy Grail of foldable phone design because of its ability to repel the damage from casual scrapes sustained by polymer. Without a rigid top layer, the phone's internal workings are susceptible to breaking. One company I spoke with last week at CES thinks it's found the answer: diamond glass.
Turns out, keeping the delicate, flexible electronic display beneath the surface safe from pressure, water, dust and sharp objects is difficult when you don't have a hard material to protect it. Samsung bore the brunt of this reality when its Galaxy Fold sustained several types of screen damage before the Fold officially went on sale.
But diamond glass is hard, said Adam Khan, founder and CEO of Akhan Semiconductor, which is developing Miraj Diamond Glass, and will be completely foldable. "Nano-diamond is actually semiflexible by itself, and we can coat flexible glass," said Khan.
Miraj Diamond Glass is a material made from lab-manufactured nano-diamond materials. It's sprayed onto a surface in a layer that measures just 100 nanometers, or 1/10,000th the thickness of a strand of hair. Diamond glass can coat either a plastic (polymer) sheet or a slip of untreated bendable glass.
With their high prices and untested designs, foldable phones are a tough sell as is. A strong cover material to protect against drops and scratches could help shift foldable phones from expensive curiosities to serious products that could one day replace your traditional shingle-shaped phone.
Akhan Semiconductor isn't the only company working toward a stronger material for foldable phones. Gorilla Glass-maker Corning showed CNET glass that's thin enough to fold without breaking, but it's still in development and isn't commercially available.
If it were, we'd see a lot more foldable phones today. Without a ready supply of glass thin enough to fold in half and strong enough not to crack, splinter or break, device-makers have had to choose whether to wait for a new material or work with what they have.
Diamond versus plastic: Is it all it's cracked up to be?
Apart from being one of the strongest substances on Earth -- diamond glass reportedly withstood lasers in a recent demo with Lockheed -- diamond crystal might not suffer the same unsightly screen creasing that appears where the Galaxy Fold, Huawei Mate X and Motorola Razr screens bend in half."It's a conformable coating, so you won't lose any of that foldability. Things that we've heard from the OEMs are that they would actually like it because the [typical] glass as it is isn't strong enough in a foldable context, so this should really go toward strengthening that structure," Khan said. Miraj Diamond Glass is also designed to coat a foldable phone's chassis, so manufacturers may not need to use heavy, cumbersome steel reinforcements within the device to support a superthin screen on top.
The material also repels water and surface oils without needing an additional oleophobic coating typical of phone materials like Gorilla Glass, Khan said. In addition, diamond glass dissipates heat to keep phones running cooler, which in turn could extend the battery life of devices that use this substance. Here's the clincher: Khan says his company won't charge more for a diamond glass treatment than Corning would for Gorilla Glass. Khan didn't reveal pricing and Corning did not respond to a request for comment. Still, there may be reason for some phone-makers to pick plastic over glass. Naysayers point out that diamond glass and sapphire crystal, another substance that's been known to cover iPhone camera lenses, might be strong, but could also be more brittle than Corning's chemically strengthened Gorilla Glass. Plastic can also be treated, like the hard coating Motorola chose for its foldable Motorola Razr. "When glass fails, it shatters. When plastic fails, it scratches," said Tom Gitzinger, director and principal engineer of innovation and architecture for Motorola, when I went to see the Motorola Razr in Chicago ahead of its official November launch. Motorola gained experience working with a hardened plastic topcoat for its Shattershield cover material on previous Motorola Droid phones, like 2017's Moto Z2 Force, which tore, but didn't break, after I dropped it 28 times.
Diamond glass in 2021, but haven't we heard this one before? This is not the first time I've sat across from Khan in a nondescript Las Vegas hotel room. CES 2017 was my first introduction to Miraj Diamond Glass. Three years ago, a confident Khan promised that we'd see a phone protected by diamond glass by the end of that year. At CES 2018, he pushed the goalposts back to the end of 2019, but averred there was an exclusive phone-maker on board. Now, at the dawn of 2020, Khan and I met again face to face. Perhaps a little more salt streaked his loose black hair, perhaps his voice was a little quieter in the stillness of the otherwise unused room. But Khan's cheery confidence remained. I had to ask, what happened to those promises? Is diamond glass real, and what about the application with foldable phones?
The holdup was two-fold, he said. The quality wasn't quite there, which sent the company back to fine-tune the product. Then the exclusive partnership fell through. "There's been some changes in the OEM world and certain partners we were moving to be with are no longer -- they were in the space and then they dropped out, so we haven't picked on to cross the line yet, but we're still working with the vast majority of the OEMs," Khan said. Producing enough diamond glass to cover a large volume of phones is also a challenge, but one Khan thinks he's found a way around the issue by working with a glass substrate, or sub-layer, that an OEM has already ordered -- instead of trying to coat a smaller subset of glass or plastic panels in-house. "You can't order 100, you order millions," he said. As for foldable diamond glass, the company is still a ways away. Miraj Diamond Glass won't be ready for a flexible glass demonstration until the next generation. So even if Akhan Semiconductors does secure an exclusive phone partner by the end of 2020, and even if we don't see that phone until 2021, a diamond glass screen on a foldable phone could still trail flexible glass by years. Even so, it'd be a brilliant test of strength that I, for one, am raring to see.