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Date: 22-05-15

X-FAB is offering sensitive UV photo diodes made using silicon foundry

Semiconductor foundry X-FAB expanded its 0.18 and 0.35 micrometer device portfolio with new highly sensitive UV (ultraviolet) photo diodes that are the first of their kind developed by a silicon foundry. These are made using X-FAB’s modular XH018 and XH035 CMOS process technologies provide highest quantum efficiency available from a silicon foundry, claims X-FAB. Because of the lower cost, these UV diodes opens door to lot of new applications in wearable, medical and industrial areas. The products such as smart watches and smart phones can use UV sensors for multiple applications.

X-FAB suggests these UV photosensor also for water purification and disinfection systems and flame detection and other applications, and in the medical sector for light therapies or the detection of blood sugar in diabetes monitoring.

In X-FAB’s 0.35 micrometer foundry process, their quantum efficiency (measurement of a device's electrical sensitivity to light) especially in the UV-A and UV-B wavelength range is more than 70 percent, and in X-FAB’s 0.18 micrometer technology it is more than 50 percent. Such levels previously have been reported only for photo diodes manufactured with special processes that use back-side illumination, or for discrete UV photo diodes, claims X-FAB.

These UV photo diodes offered by X-FAB also perform well in the visible and infra-red light spectrum, achieving a quantum efficiency rating higher than 70-percent for visible light. They support applications that require a broad wavelength range from UV to infra-red light, such as spectroscopy. X-FAB says use of the new diodes provides the following benefits:

Designers can use just one proven photo diode structure for different wavelengths, resulting in cost efficiencies
Their very low dark current results in a good signal-to-noise ratio and could reduce the size of the photo diode for further cost reduction.

As part of X-FAB’s standard CMOS process offerings, the integrated UV photo diodes allow customers to design integrated optoelectronic systems on a single chip instead of the two-chip solution previously required.

Detlef Sommer, Business Line Manager for X-FAB’s optoelectronic offering, explained the importance of the new UV sensors: “This expansion of X-FAB’s family of successful optoelectronic sensors already manufactured in high volumes for ambient light and proximity sensing allows our customers to venture into entirely new application areas. For example, the enhanced models of the XH018 UV diodes enable designers without special optical knowledge to design integrated optoelectronic systems.”

Both the new UV sensors and comprehensive process design kits (PDKs) for 0.35 and 0.18 micrometer technologies are available for immediate use. For XH018, a special dedicated VERILOG-A behavioral photo diode model for each photo diode is also available by the end of June 2015. It enables designers to apply their customary electrical design flow to the complicated physical process of light sensing.

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