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Aluminum nitride (AlN) is a technical ceramic that has both very high thermal conductivity and electrical insulation properties. This unique combination of materials makes it a critical advanced material for many applications in optics, lighting, and high power electronics. Surmet’s Buffalo, NY facility is the only US supplier of both tonnage quantities of AlN powder and sintered AlN components in complex shapes for these applications.
AlN is a highly stable, covalently bonded compound of aluminum and nitrogen that does not occur naturally. It is stable in inert atmospheres at temperatures above 2000°C and can be annealed to a hardness of more than 1000 MPa.
It is a very good electrical insulator, with high dielectric constant and bulk resistivity. AlN also has very high bending strength, which is useful for fabricating a wide range of PZ ceramic components. These devices can produce small mechanical motions such as linear or angular actuators, or generate electrical currents when subjected to mechanical stress.
The III-nitrides, such as gallium nitride, indium nitride and aluminum nitride, have excellent electrical properties that make them suitable substrates for the deposition of complex material device structures used in optoelectronics and microelectronics. The growth of these III-nitride materials is accomplished by a process called metalorganic chemical-vapor phase epitaxy, also known as molecular beam epitaxy and liquid-phase epitaxy. These methods are the technique of choice for the deposition of the thin film semiconductors and materials that are used to make blue and green LEDs and other advanced photovoltaic devices.