Ultra-high purity germanium crystals are grown at the University of South Dakota for ultra-low background experiments at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) at Homestake. When completed, SURF will be the only site in the world where growth of germanium crystals of unprecedented purity in an underground environment is possible.
Currently, high quality crystals are grown and harvested at the temporary surface growth facility located on the USD campus. One third of the grown crystals will be manufactured into detectors. The remaining crystals will be fabricated into wafers that have broad applications in electro and optical devices and solar panels, with the potential to create jobs and generate revenue within the state.
Dongming Mei and his research team are developing a plan to convert bulk germanium into the ultra-pure material used to create detectors. They have also developed a plan for the wafers, considered a less pure byproduct, which will include commercial applications for greater economic development.