New Material to Push the Boundaries of Silicon-Based Electronics


The electronics market is growing continuously therefore is the need for progressively compact and effective power electronic systems. The primary electronic elements based upon silicon will in foreseeable future no longer be able to satisfy the increasing commercial requirements. This is why researchers from the university of Freiburg, the Sustainability Center Freiburg and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft have actually signed up with forces in order to check out a new material structure that might be much better fit for future power electronics. The just recently released job “Research study of Practical Semiconductor Structures for Energy Effective Power Electronics” (in other words “Power Electronics 2020+”) looks into the unique semiconductor material scandium aluminum nitride (ScAlN). Prof. Dr. Oliver Ambacher, director of Fraunhofer IAF and teacher of power electronics at the Department of Sustainable Systems Engineering (INATECH) of the university of Freiburg, collaborates the supra-regional cooperation.

undefined Fraunhofer IAF establishes electronic elements and systems based upon GaN. The image reveals a processed GaN wafer.
© Fraunhofer IAF

3 essential elements are accountable for the strong development of the electronics market: the automation and digitalization of the market in addition to the increasing awareness of environmental duty and sustainable procedures. Power intake can just be reduced if electronic systems end up being more more energy- and resource-efficient the very same time they end up being more effective.

undefined A group of scientists at Fraunhofer IAF has actually been dealing with the piezoelectric homes of ScAlN for the usage in high-frequency filters for several years. The image programs the characterization of such gadgets on a wafer.
© Fraunhofer IAF]

Silicon Technology Reaches its Physical Limitation

Up to date, silicon controls the electronics market. With its relative low expense and a nearly best crystal structure, silicon has actually ended up being an especially effective semiconductor material, likewise due to the fact that its bandgap permits both a great charge provider concentration and speed in addition to a great dielectric strength. Nevertheless, silicon electronics slowly reaches its physical limitation. Particularly with regard to the needed power density and density, silicon power electronic elements are inadequate.

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© By Hi-Res Images of Chemical Aspects– http://images-of-elements.com/scandium.php

Ingenious Material Structure for More Power and Performance

The restrictions of silicon technology have actually currently been conquered by the usage of gallium nitride (GaN) as a semiconductor in power electronics. GaN carries out much better in conditions of high voltages, heats and quick changing frequencies compared to silicon. This works together with substantially greater energy performance– with many energy-consuming applications, this indicates a substantial decrease in energy intake. Fraunhofer IAF has actually been looking into GaN as a semiconductor material for electronic elements and systems for several years. With the assistance of commercial partners, the outcomes of these research study work has actually currently been put to industrial usage. The researchers of the job “Power Electronics 2020+” will go even further in order to again improve the energy performance and sturdiness of the next generation of electronic systems. For this function, a various and unique material will be utilized: scandium aluminum nitride (ScAlN).

First Parts Based Upon ScAlN

ScAlN is a piezoelectric semiconductor material with a high dielectric strength which is mostly untouched around the world with regard of its functionality in microelectronic applications. “The truth that scandium aluminum nitride is particularly well fit for power electronic elements, due to its physical homes, has actually currently been shown”, discusses Dr.-Ing. Michael Mikulla, job supervisor on the part of Fraunhofer IAF. The goal of the job is to grow lattice-matched ScAlN on a GaN layer and to usage the resulting heterostructures to procedure transistors with high present bring capability. “Practical semiconductor structures based upon products with a big bandgap, such as scandium aluminum nitride and gallium nitride, permit transistors with extremely high voltages and currents. These gadgets reach a greater power density per chip surface area in addition to greater changing speeds and greater running temperature levels. This is associated with lower changing losses, greater energy performance and more compact systems”, includes Prof. Dr. Oliver Ambacher, director of Fraunhofer IAF. “By integrating both products, GaN and ScAlN, we desire to double the optimum possible output power of our gadgets while at the very same time substantially reducing the energy need”, states Mikulla.

Pioneering Operate In Products Research Study

One of the most significant difficulties of the job is crystal development, thinking about that there exsist structure neither development dishes nor empirical worths for this material, yet. The job group requirements to establish these throughout the next months in order to reach reproducible outcomes and to produce layer structures that can effectively be utilized for power electronic applications.

Expert Partnership and Understanding Transfer In Between Freiburg and Erlangen

The research study job will be carried out in close cooperation in between the university of Freiburg, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Strong State Physics IAF, the Sustainability Center Freiburg in addition to the Fraunhofer Institure for Integrated Systems and Gadget Technology IISB in Erlangen, which is a member of the High-Performance Center for Electronic Systems in Erlangen. This new kind of cooperation in between university research study and application-oriented advancement will work as a good example for future job cooperation. “On the one hand, this design assists in the cooperation with business through the trigger transfer of arises from fundamental research study to application-oriented advancement. On the other hand, it opens synergies in between 2 technically complementary Fraunhofer Centers from 2 various areas and therefore enhances both their deals for prospective consumers of the semiconductor market”, factors Prof. Ambacher.

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