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A New Class of SiC Power MOSFETs with Record-Low Resistance

Sonrisa Research
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$1,369,282
Location: 
Santa Fe, NM
Project Term: 
06/17/2019 to 06/16/2022
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Power electronics condition, control, and convert electrical power to provide optimal conditions for transmission, distribution, and consumption. The performance, temperature, resilience, and size of most power electronics are limited due to the type of circuit topology and semiconductor power devices used. Silicon carbide (SiC) metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) power devices can handle higher voltages, frequencies, temperatures, and power levels more reliably than state-of-the-art Si devices, however. Despite the considerable progress made in SiC MOSFETs over the past 20 years, the high channel and substrate resistances limit their performance in the voltage regime below 1200V, which is the largest segment for power semiconductors, and reduces their widespread adoption.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Sonrisa Research will develop a new class of SiC power transistors using a simple three-dimensional architectural modification to reduce the channel resistance by up to a factor of nine. To accomplish this, Sonrisa will etch trenches into the basic planar MOSFET, increasing its effective channel width without increasing its overall area. This is similar to the fin-type field-effect transistor (FinFET) geometry popular in advanced Si integrated circuits, but in a configuration that meets high-power application needs. A different structural modification will be used to reduce the substrate resistance. The combination of lower channel and substrate resistance will enable SiC MOSFETs to displace silicon MOSFETs and insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) in the blocking voltage regime below 1200V broadening the useful application space and furthering their adoption.
Potential Impact: 
The devices developed in this project employ the FinFET geometry used in advanced Si integrated circuits to enable more efficient and powerful electronics to power electric vehicles, connect wind and solar farms to the grid, and run large data centers.
Security: 
More robust SiC power electronics offer increased durability and higher efficiency that will significantly improve the reliability and security of a resilient electrical grid.
Environment: 
Low cost and highly efficient power electronics reduce greenhouse gas emissions by facilitating non-polluting forms of transportation and integrating renewable energy sources into the grid.
Economy: 
Using SiC MOSFETs instead of Si IGBTs will enable higher frequency operation, reducing the size and weight of passive components such as transformers, and reducing overall system cost. The expanded market for SiC devices will increase manufacturing volume and drive costs down through economies of scale. These innovations will advance SiC devices, opening new markets and impacting a wide variety of power systems.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Isik Kizilyalli
Project Contact: 
Dr. James Cooper
Release Date: 
11/15/2018