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Diamond Power Transistors

Arizona State University (ASU)
ARPA-E Award: 
Tempe, AZ
Project Term: 
02/20/2014 to 07/15/2019
Project Status: 
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Power semiconductor devices are critical to America's energy infrastructure--all electronics, from laptops to electric motors, rely on them to control or convert electrical energy in order to operate properly. Unfortunately, the performance and efficiency of today's dominant power semiconductor device material, Silicon, suffer at higher power levels and higher temperature. This results in substantial loss of efficiency across our energy infrastructure. Innovative new semiconductor materials, device architectures, and fabrication processes promise to improve the performance and efficiency of existing electronic devices and to pave the way for next-generation power electronics.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Arizona State University (ASU) will develop a process to produce low-cost, vertical, diamond semiconductor devices for use in high-power electronics. Diamond is an excellent conductor of electricity when boron or phosphorus is added--or doped--into its crystal structures. In fact, diamond can withstand much higher temperatures with higher performance levels than silicon, which is used in the majority of today's semiconductor devices. However, growing uniformly doped diamond crystals is difficult and expensive. ASU's innovative diamond-growing process could create greater doping uniformity, helping to significantly lower the cost of diamond semiconductor devices.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, ASU will facilitate the widespread use of diamond semiconductor devices with a variety of applications, including high-temperature electronics and electric vehicle motors.
Advances in power electronics could facilitate greater adoption of electric vehicles, which in turn could help reduce U.S. oil imports.
More efficient power electronics systems promise reduced electricity consumption, resulting in fewer harmful energy-related emissions.
More efficient power electronics would use less energy, saving American families and business owners money on their power bills.
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Isik Kizilyalli
Project Contact: 
Prof. Robert Nemanich
University of California, Davis
Release Date: