Keysight Partners with University for Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Testing
Their goals are to improve efficiencies in the design and testing validation of GaN and SiC semiconductors.
Taiwan’s National Central University Optical Sciences Center (NCUOSC) employs Keysight's PD1500A Dynamic Power Device Analyzer/Double Pulse Tester (DPT) platform as a cornerstone of its new third-generation WBG semiconductor open laboratory.
The PD1500A Dynamic Power Device Analyzer/Double Pulse Tester. Image courtesy of Keysight
What are Wide Bandgap Semiconductors?
Wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors, including gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon carbide (SiC), can function with switching speeds far in excess of their silicon predecessors, which means that when they are employed in power converters, smaller filtering components are needed, saving weight and board space. Additionally, when they are in their “ON” state, they also offer far less resistance, which translates into greater power efficiency.
As such, these designers are fast incorporating these devices into data centers, 5G and consumer applications, and, perhaps most critically, into electric vehicles. However, they are difficult to design with and test. Indeed, the difficulties are such that some manufacturers, including STMicroelectronics, offer devices including WBG power semiconductors already integrated with their drivers to allow designers to utilize GaN devices without the considerable design headaches presently involved.
JEDEC is Developing Standards for WGB Standards
An industry-supported, global organization, JEDEC is involved in setting open standards for the microelectronics industry, and testing standards are now beginning to emerge for this explosive and still new semiconductor segment. In conjunction with these new imperatives, Keysight’s PD1500A DPT is a powerful tool that can be employed to determine performance parameters for individual SiC or GaN devices. These include dynamic on-resistance, reverse recovery, gate charge, and a host of other critical characteristics that will be of enormous importance to OEMs and others contemplating WGB semiconductors use or choosing between competitive devices.
"Keysight is happy to work with NCUOSC to help engineering teams characterize, understand, integrate, deploy and drive innovations for next-generation semiconductor technologies," said Thomas Goetzl, vice president and general manager of Keysight's Automotive and Energy Solutions business unit.
And, as per Professor Yue-Ming Hsin, Director of NCUOSC, "Keysight's PD1500A DPT enables NCUOSC to reliably characterize wide-bandgap devices and effectively innovate GaN and SiC applications. Its safety protection, scalable and optional test fixtures deliver the flexibility we needed for future expansions." He goes on to state that, "In addition to the PD1500A, we also set up the Keysight B1505A/N1265A Power Device Analyzer/Curve Tracer to serve the complete and crucial characterizations of WBG semiconductors. It's our pleasure to collaborate with Keysight and contribute to the ecosystem of 5G/6G and electric vehicles."
Taiwan is an international hub of semiconductor manufacturing, and is home to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world's largest semiconductor foundry, making the partnership’s geographic location a fortuitous choice.
Keysight's PD1500A DPT
The designers of the PD1500A DPT, as described in our earlier article, faced significant challenges in dealing with frequencies, and their corresponding edge rates, which are orders of magnitude faster than the specifications of last-generation silicon devices. Factors such as inductive switching and power loop parasitics presented enormous difficulties.
Without a device such as Keysight’s DPT and JEDEC standards, each manufacturer basically had to establish their own specifications, with little standardization. This difficult situation had the effect of slowing the adaptation of SiC and GaN devices.
The B1505A, mentioned earlier by Professor Hsin, is a power device analyzer and curve tracer that can evaluate and characterize power semiconductors. Capacities are up to 10 kilovolts and 1500 amps. The unit features 10 μs pulsing capability, measuring microhm level on-resistances as well as current measuring capabilities that delve into levels below a picoamp.
Visually oriented engineers will be pleased to note that an oscilloscope view allows for visual verification of both current and voltage pulsed waveforms.
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The National Central University Optoelectronics Research Center
The focus of each research group of this National Central University Optical Sciences Center (NCUOSC) includes optoelectronic semiconductor materials and components, radio frequency and high-speed integrated circuits, holographic technology, nonlinear optics, precision optical coating technology, integrated optical materials and components, biochips, organic and amorphous silicon luminescent materials, and devices. In the future, we will strengthen forward-looking research and integrate the resources of various groups to develop the following applications: optical and wireless communications, solid-state lighting, display technology, energy optoelectronics, optical storage, and bio-optoelectronics. Please visit https://www.ncu.edu.tw/~osc/ for more information.