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PN-Junctions by Ion Implantation

The Research Foundation for The State University of New York (SUNY)

Demonstration of PN-junctions by Implant and Growth techniques for GaN

Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$930,000
Location: 
Albany, NY
Project Term: 
09/13/2017 to 01/07/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 

Electricity generation currently accounts for ~40% of primary energy consumption in the U.S. and continues to be the fastest growing form of end-use energy. Power electronics are responsible for controlling and converting electrical power to provide optimal conditions for transmission, distribution, and load-side consumption. By 2030 as much as 80% of all electricity could pass through some form of power electronics. Applications for power electronics are widespread and include uses in power supplies, motor drives, grid applications, data centers, and distributed energy resources. Today, most power electronics are based on silicon semiconductor devices that have reached their efficiency limits at high power and frequency, due to the material limitations of silicon. Wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductors such as gallium nitride (GaN) have superior electrical conductivity, breakdown properties, and switching speed. This allows for power converters with much improved efficiencies over silicon - while also dramatically reducing system size, weight, and form factor. Power semiconductor devices overwhelmingly use vertical architectures to realize high breakdown voltage (>1200V) and current levels, without having to enlarge chip size. The vertical architectures require the ability to add specific impurities to selected regions of a semiconductor to produce negative (n-type) and positive (p-type) electrical conduction, a process called doping. Currently, no doping process exists to form selective p-type regions in GaN. This is the major barrier to realization of GaN based vertical power electronic devices. The development of a selective p-type doping process will enable vertical GaN device architectures and unlock the potential of using the WBG semiconductor GaN in power electronics.

Project Innovation + Advantages: 

The Research Foundation for the State University of New York (SUNY), on behalf of SUNY Polytechnic University, will develop innovative doping process technologies for gallium nitride (GaN) vertical power devices to realize the potential of GaN-based devices for future high efficiency, high power applications. SUNY Polytechnic's proposed research will focus on ion implantation to enable the creation of localized doping that is necessary for fabricating GaN vertical power devices. Ion implantation is a doping process used in other semiconductor materials such as Si and GaAs but has been difficult to use in GaN due to the limited ability to perform high temperature heat treatments or anneals needed to activate the implanted dopants and repair the damage caused by implantation. The team will develop new annealing techniques to activate magnesium or silicon implanted in GaN to build p-n junctions, the principal building block of modern electronic components like transistors. High temperature anneals will be performed using an innovative gyrotron beam technique (a high-power vacuum tube that generates millimeter-length electromagnetic waves) and an aluminum nitride cap. Central to the team's project is understanding the impact of implantation on the microstructural properties of the GaN material and effects on performance.

Potential Impact: 

If successful, PNDIODES projects will enable further development of a new class of power converters suitable in a broad range of application areas including automotive, industrial, residential, transportation (rail & ship), aerospace, and utilities.

Security: 

More energy efficient power electronics could improve the efficiency of the U.S. power sector. They could also significantly improve the reliability and security of the electrical grid.

Environment: 

More efficient power use may help reduce power-related emissions. Low-cost and highly efficient power electronics could also lead to increased adoption of electric vehicles and greater integration of renewable power sources.

Economy: 

Improved power electronics could yield a significant reduction in U.S. electricity consumption, saving American families and businesses money on their power bills.

Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Isik Kizilyalli
Project Contact: 
Prof. Fatemeh Shahedipour-Sandvik
Partners
U.S. Army Research Laboratory
Release Date: 
6/14/2017