Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne and Kyma Technologies win spot in second cohort of Technologist In Residence Program

By Alex MitchellOctober 6, 2016

A collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Argonne National Laboratory and Kyma Technologies focusing on advanced semiconductor devices has earned a spot in the second cohort of DOE's Technologist In Residence (TIR) Program.

Through TIR, three DOE national laboratories will receive funding to advance collaborative research and development in their respective focus areas. DOE is making an investment of $400,000 in each partnership, an amount that will be matched by the companies selected for participation.

The TIR Program is designed to streamline engagement and increase collaborative research and development (R&D) between national laboratories and private sector companies. It is also designed to strengthen U.S. clean energy manufacturing competitiveness, as well as the commercial impact of the national laboratories.

"One of the most exciting aspects of the TIR Program is that it will allow us to look at these problems through the lens of industry, something that I believe makes the program unique," said Angel Yanguas-Gil, a principal materials scientist at Argonne and the lead Argonne researcher on the collaboration with Kyma Technologies. "We are going to help our partners at Kyma overcome some of their challenges by putting them in contact with experts and our unique capabilities here at Argonne and at other national labs."

Each new TIR awardee will partner a senior lab technologist from a DOE national laboratory with an industry professional from a clean energy manufacturing company or consortium of companies.

"We are going to help our partners at Kyma overcome some of their challenges by putting them in contact with experts and our unique capabilities here at Argonne and at other national labs."

The Argonne and Kyma Technologies partnership will focus on developing a long-term collaboration between Kyma and the DOE national laboratories that will center on the development of advanced semiconductor devices for application in advanced power electronics, optoelectronics, solid-state lighting and photovoltaics. The major technology area that will be investigated is the manufacture of ultra-high-quality single-crystal materials and epiwafers and devices fabricated from those materials.

Specifically, the work will focus on integrating the synthesis of advanced crystalline semiconductors with device design and fabrication and advanced materials characterization to accelerate the transition from research to market.

The core expertise of Kyma (Raleigh, N.C.) is the synthesis of high quality, single-crystal semiconductor materials that are at the core of advanced power electronics, solid-state lighting, RF devices, optoelectronics and advanced sensors. The availability of a reliable supply of these substrates is crucial for the development of U.S. device manufacturing capabilities in all those technology areas. In addition to Argonne, many other DOE national laboratories have strong R&D programs targeting those areas.

Argonne and Kyma have a mutual interest in achieving a tighter integration between bulk crystal and high-quality epitaxy (the deposition of a crystalline overlayer on a crystalline substrate), device design and fabrication and advanced materials characterization in order to identify and determine the root causes of device failure and performance loss early in the development cycle.

Specifically, Argonne is interested in tackling key materials and manufacturing challenges identified by U.S. industry by leveraging its unique core capabilities in the areas of advanced X-ray characterization through the Advanced Photon Source and device fabrication through the Center for Nanoscale Materials — both DOE Office of Science User Facilities — as well as a world-leading program in atomic layer deposition. These capabilities allow Argonne to bridge the traditional gap between fundamental and applied R&D areas.

Kyma is interested in tapping into device fabrication and advanced materials characterization capabilities available at Argonne, but also in other national laboratories. These capabilities are crucial to Kyma's core business so it can test and explore new applications for its substrate materials.

"We tend to think that manufacturing problems are engineering problems," Yanguas-Gil said. "However, in many cases the root causes of these issues are extremely fundamental in nature and go down to the quality of the underlying materials. This is certainly the case of the fabrication of novel devices based on advanced semiconductor technologies. The ability to synthesize materials and interfaces with a very low density of defects in a cost-effective way is paramount to transferring new technologies to the market."

The other two TIR collaborations are Idaho National Laboratory and DuPont, which will focus initially on the biofuels industry and the challenges inherent in biofuel production, feedstock quality and bioconversion; and Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Pioneer Natural Resources, which will leverage Oak Ridge's strong expertise and resources in advanced manufacturing. Some areas of focus include advanced materials and coatings, smart parts and sensors, advanced material design and additive manufacturing.

This announcement follows the successful launch of TIR in December 2015, when seven industry-lab pairs – including national companies like Proctor & Gamble, Hewlett Packard and Cummins — were selected to undertake advanced research in clean energy manufacturing and establish mechanisms that will help interested companies more easily leverage the national lab network in the future. Learn more about the initial round.

Interested national laboratories and their industry partners can still apply for the TIR Program. Applications will be open and evaluated on a rolling basis, to give lab and industry pairs the opportunity to apply according to their business schedule. Interested national labs and companies can determine areas of mutual interest, identify technologist pairs and apply to TIR through the Lab Call for Proposals.

The TIR Program is supported by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO). AMO supports applied research, development and demonstration of new materials and processes for energy efficiency in manufacturing as well as platform technologies for the manufacturing of clean energy products.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.