A compound semiconductor is composed of chemical elements belonging to two or more different groups in the periodic table, e.g., III–V. Compound semiconductors have unique material properties such as direct energy bandgap, high breakdown electric fields, and high electron mobility, compared to silicon, enabling photonic, high-speed, and high-power device technologies. Electrons in compound semiconductors move much faster than those in silicon, enabling processing that is more than 100 times faster.
Silicon semiconductors made possible today’s electronics industry; compound semiconductors will drive the next wave of advances, from 5G to robotics, more efficient renewable energy, and autonomous vehicles. They can operate at lower voltage, emit and sense light, generate microwaves, and are magnetically sensitive and resistant to heat. They consume only a fraction of the energy that current materials consume to store, route, transmit, and detect data.
Compound semiconductors will underpin the Internet of Things by virtue of their greater power efficiency (for battery-powered devices) and optical properties (in sensors for new imaging techniques implemented in connected cars, healthcare, and industrial applications).
Electrons in compound semiconductors move much faster than those in silicon, accelerating processing by more than 100X.