Vertical GaN Devices
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:
The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) will develop new vertical gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor technologies that will significantly enhance the performance and reduce the cost of high-power electronics. UCSB will markedly reduce the size of its vertical GaN semiconductor devices compared to today’s commercially available, lateral GaN-on-silicon-based devices. Despite their reduced size, UCSB’s vertical GaN devices will exhibit improved performance and significantly lower power losses when switching and converting power than lateral GaN devices. UCSB will also simplify fabrication processes to keep costs down.
If successful, UCSB’s devices will enable high-power conversion at low cost in motor drives, electric vehicles, and other applications.
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.