A research collaboration led by Queensland Semiconductor Technology (Questsemi) and Griffith University is establishing the performance, characterisation and manufacturability of silicon carbide (SiC) Schottky diodes at a wafer level.
SiC Schottky diodes are small semiconductor devices, or one-way electronic switches, used in power conversion systems. Due to their thermal conductivity, high switching performance and efficiency, they are highly sought after for solar inverters, motor drives, electric vehicle (EV) chargers and uninterruptible power supplies.
Supported by IMCRC and Semefab Scotland, researchers at the Queensland Microtechnology Facility (QMF) at Griffith University have developed a new technology allowing for more efficient and low-cost fabrication of SiC diodes.
“Manufacturing SiC diodes is complex and generally associated with high capital investment,” Questsemi director David Fletcher said.
“Unlike other SiC diode manufacturing processes, the technology developed by Griffith researchers uses steps that are common to standard Si wafer processing and thus dramatically simplifies the manufacturing process and associated costs.”
“With the funding support of IMCRC, we are able to trial production and accelerate the commercialisation of the new SiC technology which is set to improve the overall cost of semiconductor devices used in energy efficient technologies,” he said.
A $1.3 million pilot production facility will be set up at QMF as part of the research project, to support commercialisation. Devices required for the initial commercial product supply will be manufactured there.
The development and pilot manufacture of SiC-based diodes at QMF is an example of advanced manufacturing collaboration, according to QMF team leader Professor Sima Dimitrijev.
“We are working with local manufacturers which enables Questsemi not only to fast-track commercialisation, but also to design and manufacture semiconductor devices that meet local demand for applications such as EV battery chargers, drones, solar inverters, industrial motor drives and high-frequency power converters,” Dimitrijev said.
Insights and advancements made during the project will help Questsemi transition to volume manufacture of SiC Schottky diodes, both locally and overseas.
Questsemi’s collaboration with Griffith University demonstrates what is possible when a business research partnership sets out to push technological boundaries to solve unmet industry needs, IMCRC innovation manufacturing manager Dr Matthew Young said.
“SiC Schottky diodes play an important role in the semiconductor value chain, a sector often described as global engine for technology, economic and social progress,” Young said.
“Questsemi and Griffith University’s SiC technology will have a flow-on effect in the design, prototyping and fabrication of other semiconductor devices, creating new business opportunities for Australia.
“With IMCRC activate funding, we are able to fast track the commercial translation of this semiconductor research into next-generation energy efficient technologies,” he said.
The project with Questsemi is also an example of ongoing translational research activities with direct commercial impact, Griffith University QMNC director Professor Nam-Trung Nguyen said.
“We have a strategic line-up of projects from fundamental research to commercial development that ensures rapid transfer of technologies developed at our centre to industry partners,” Nguyen said.
“We have been hosting three projects with IMCRC, which provides an ideal platform to our impact strategy toward end user benefits.”