Temperature has been the bain of the semiconductor industry. Silicon just doesn?t work well at very high temperatures. One alternative is creating semiconductors by combining aluminum, gallium, and indium with nitrogen making them more heat tolerant and stronger than those made of silicon.

Still, up to 1150 degrees Celsius is necessary to produce AIN (aluminum nitride) layers. A new technique is described in the journal Applied Physics Letters which covers new experimental and theoretical research. The study indicates that production of AIN layers are possible at half the temperature of other methods and result in atomic-scale thickness.

Neeraj Nepal and colleagues of the United States Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. formed AIN (above) layers using atomic layer epitaxy (ALE). This technique provides material that can be integrated in new ways for use in devices such as transistors and switches.

Nepal says new advanced speciality materials could be used in next generation high-frequency radiofrequency electronics, such as those used for high-speed data transfer and cell phone services.