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More Efficient Semiconductor Material-Silicon Carbide

wallpapers Industry 2020-07-07

In power electronics, semiconductors are based on elemental silicon-but the energy efficiency of silicon carbide will be much higher. Physicists at the University of Basel, the Paul Scherrer Institute and ABB explain the reasons for preventing the combined use of silicon and carbon in the scientific journal "Applied Physics Letters."

Energy consumption continues to increase globally, and sustainable energy supplies such as wind and solar energy are becoming increasingly important. However, electricity is usually generated far away from consumers. Therefore, efficient power distribution and transportation systems are as crucial as substations and power converters that converts the generated DC power into AC power.

New power electronic equipment must be able to handle large currents and high voltages. Transistors made of semiconductor materials currently used for field-effect electronics are now mainly based on silicon technology. However, the use of SiC on silicon produces significant physical and chemical advantages. In addition to higher heat resistance, this material can provide better energy efficiency, resulting in substantial cost savings.

It is well known that these advantages are affected by defects at the interface between silicon carbide and insulating material silicon dioxide. This damage is based on tiny irregular carbon ring clusters that crystallize in the crystal lattice, which has been experimentally proven by Professor Thomas Jung of the Swiss Institute of Nanoscience and researchers lead by the Departments of Physics at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute. Using atomic force microscopy analysis and Raman spectroscopy, they showed that defects were generated near the interface through the oxidation process.

At high temperatures, interfering carbon clusters of only a few nanometers in size are formed during the oxidation of silicon carbide powder to silicon dioxide. "If we change certain parameters during oxidation, we can affect the occurrence of defects," said doctoral student Dipanwita Dutta. For example, the nitrous oxide atmosphere during heating results in significantly fewer carbon clusters.

The experimental results were confirmed by a team led by Professor Stefan Gdecker of the Departments of Physics at the University of Basel and the Swiss Institute of Nanoscience. Computer simulations confirmed the experimentally observed structural and chemical changes caused by graphite carbon atoms. In addition to experiments, atomic insights have also been gained in the generation of defects and their effect on the flow of electrons in semiconductor materials.

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Tag: Silicon Carbide