Low-Cost GaN Substrates

Project Term:
02/17/2014 - 05/17/2015

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:

Soraa will develop a cost-effective technique to manufacture high-quality, high-performance gallium nitride (GaN) crystal substrates that have fewer defects by several orders of magnitude than conventional GaN substrates and cost about 10 times less. Substrates are thin wafers of semiconducting material needed to power devices like transistors and integrated circuits. Most GaN-based electronics today suffer from very high defect levels and, in turn, reduced performance. In addition to reducing defects, Soraa will also develop methods capable of producing large-area GaN substrates—3 to 4 times larger in diameter than conventional GaN substrates—that can handle high-power switching applications.

Potential Impact:

If successful, Soraa will produce cost-effective, high-quality, high-performance GaN substrates for use in a variety of high-power applications, including motor drives and efficient lighting.


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. Timothy Heidel
Project Contact:
Dr. Mark D'Evelyn
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

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