Power Nitride Doping Innovation Offers Devices Enabling SWITCHES
The projects that comprise ARPA-E’s PNDIODES (Power Nitride Doping Innovation Offers Devices Enabling SWITCHES) program seek to develop transformational advances in the process of selective area doping in the wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductor, gallium nitride (GaN), and its alloys. Wide-bandgap semiconductors have applications similar to today’s popular semiconductors, such as silicon and gallium arsenide, but with properties that allow them to operate at much higher voltages, frequencies and temperatures than these traditional materials. These qualities inherent to WBGs stand to enable high-power, high-performance power conversion hardware for a broad range of applications, including consumer electronics, the electricity grid, power supplies, solar and wind power, automotive, ship propulsion, and aerospace.
The doping process, the challenge central to the PNDIODES program, consists of adding a specific impurity to a semiconductor to change its electrical properties—altering its physical makeup to achieve performance characteristics that are useful for electronics. Developing a reliable and usable doping process that can be applied to specific regions of the semiconductor gallium nitride and its alloys remains an important obstacle in the fabrication of power electronics devices using this technology.
The PNDIODES program is an extension of ARPA-E’s SWITCHES (Strategies for Wide-Bandgap, Inexpensive Transistors for Controlling High-Efficiency Systems) program, seeking to fill technological gaps in the area of selective area doping, further advancing the field by addressing the problem of producing sufficiently high quality and reliably doped regions in GaN and its alloys to create viable high-power, high-performance transistors.
Improved power electronics could yield up to a 20% reduction in U.S. electricity consumption, saving American families and businesses money on their power bills.