High-temperature Silicon Carbide Electronics (HITSIC)

Project: Research

Description

The project aims to research and develop a novel semiconductor process to fabricate low-voltage electronics. The material used in the process is silicon carbide (SiC). Silicon carbide has excellent high-temperature properties. This means that electronics fabricated using SiC can operate potentially at temperatures as high as 600Celsius. This compares with limits of 150 Celsius for Silicon-based electronics; the standard material used for electronics. Other novel materials such a Gallium-Arsenide and Gallium-Nitride can operate at higher temperatures than Silicon, but their development has been so far restricted to radio-frequency applications. High-temperature electronics, particularly power semiconductors used in power applications, have recently been developed to the prototype stage, with simple devices like diodes now appearing on the market. As more complex power semiconductor devices reach the market there will be a need for control electronics to operate and control the devices. Our proposal aims to develop a novel process that allows fabrication of low-voltage control electronics on silicon carbide. This will allow the control electronics to be integrated with the power devices and operate at high temperatures. In addition to the power electronic applications described, the technology will allow electronics to operate in harsh and extreme environments. One example is sensor equipment for oil- and gas-well applications. Significant fuel reserves exist below 5km but at these depths temperatures exceed the capabilities of existing electronics technology. The technology proposed, when integrated in down-hole applications, will realise cheaper, more compact equipment that eases some of the technical challenges of reaching deep oil and gas reserves. The technology proposed can be applied to a number of key energy sectors including power generation, electrical transmission and distribution, electrical energy utilisation, transportation and energy storage. Benefits accrue from the improved efficiency and reduced cost that the adoption of silicon-carbide devices realises. The research proposed will therefore have a significant impact on many aspects of the energy use of developed and developing nations.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date30/03/0928/09/12

Funding

  • EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council): £327,203.00

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Silicon carbide
Electronic equipment
Temperature
Power electronics
Semiconductor materials
High temperature properties
Silicon
Gallium nitride
Gallium arsenide
Gases
Voltage control
Energy storage
Power generation
Diodes
Energy utilization
Fabrication
Sensors
Electric potential