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International Project Targets Advances In Power Semiconductors

CATANIA, ITALY: A 42-month European research project called LAST POWER (Large Area silicon carbide Substrates and heTeroepitaxial GaN for POWER device applications) is tasked with advancing wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductor technology. The project, which is under the domain of the European Nanoelectronics Initiative Advisory Council (ENIAC), will focus on the complete production chain for siliconcarbide (SiC) and gallium-nitride-on-silicon (heteroepitaxial-GaN) devices. These semiconductor materials offer enhanced speed, current, breakdown voltage, and thermal capabilities compared to many conventional silicon technologies.

The project's overall objective is to develop a cost-effective and reliable integration of advanced SiC and GaN semiconductors in the European power microelectronics industry. This will be achieved via five specific objectives. The first objective is the growth of large-area (150-mm) SiC and high-quality heteroepitaxial GaN on 150-mm Si wafers beyond the current state-of-the-art for substrates, epitaxy, and surface preparation. The project also is tasked with the development of dedicated equipment for material growth, characterization, and processing. In addition, LAST POWER must process reliable and efficient SiC and GaN devices on 150-mm wafers. It also has to demonstrate high-performance devices with properties that cannot be obtained on silicon including a 1200-V/100-A SiC MOSFET, SiC JFET capable of operating to 250C, and GaN HEMT devices for power switching. Lastly, the project members must develop advanced packages for high-temperature devices while improving device reliability.

The development of highly energy-efficient systems targets applications ranging from telecommunications to automotive, consumer electronics, electrical household appliances, and industrial. "The power semiconductor market, which represents approximately 30 percent of the overall semiconductor market, is set to change significantly in response to the ever-increasing demand for more energyefficient devices," says Project Coordinator Salvatore Coffa, Group Vice President and R&D General Manager, Industrial and Multisegment Sector, STMicroelectronics. "This key project, which targets secure strategic independence in the emerging field of SiC and GaN technologies, will place Europe at the forefront of energyefficient devices."

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