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Selective Area Doping for GaN Power Devices

Adroit Materials

Selective Area Doping for Nitride Power Devices

Adroit Materials Inc
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$1,022,920
Location: 
Raleigh, NC
Project Term: 
09/13/2017 to 09/12/2019
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: 

Adroit Materials will develop a gallium nitride (GaN) selective area doping process to enable high-performance, reliable GaN-based, high-power switches which are promising candidates for future high efficiency, high power electronic applications.. Specifically, doping capabilities that allow for the creation of localized doped regions must be developed for GaN in order to reach its full potential as a power electronics semiconductor. Adroit's process will focus on implantation of magnesium ions and an innovative high temperature, high pressure activation anneal, or heat treatment, process to remove implantation damage and control performance-reducing defects. By developing an in-depth understanding of the ion implantation doping process, the team will be able to demonstrate usable and reliable planar and embedded p-n junctions, the principal building block of modern electronic components like transistors.

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: 
Dr. James Tweedie
Release Date: 
6/14/2017