$2 Million US ARL Grant to Make 10kV to 15kV SiC MOSFETs

August 10, 2018 by Paul Shepard

State University of New York (SUNY) Polytechnic Institute says that associate professor of nanoengineering Dr Woongje Sung has been selected to receive $2,078,000 in total federal funding over three years from the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) for advancing ‘MUSiC' (the Manufacturing of Ultra-high-voltage Silicon Carbide devices).

By developing higher voltages compared with traditional silicon-based devices and enabling more reliable and robust switching devices in SiC, the research aims to establish a leading-edge process for the creation of power electronics chips with a range of military and commercial applications, from solar energy and electric vehicles to the electrical grid, for example.

Sung's research will help to establish a baseline process for MUSiC. The proposed SiC high-voltage devices will be fabricated at the SUNY Poly-led New York Power Electronics Manufacturing Consortium (NY-PEMC) facility, located at the Albany NanoTech Complex and one of only two foundry service providers for 6-inch SiC device fabrications in the USA.

The power electronics-focused research will also support SUNY Poly graduate students who will gain first-hand experience optimizing the device structure, designing the process flow, and characterizing the electrical performances of the fabricated devices as they work closely with the NY-PEMC process team.

More specifically, the students will be designing and optimizing the 10- to 15-kV metal-oxide-silicon-field-effect-transistors (MOSFETs) - the switch components of the power electronics chips - using 2D device simulations. After fabrication, the students will provide feedback to improve the device design and the process.

"This latest award showcases the importance of SUNY Poly's faculty research and how our institution and New York State have been able to push new boundaries to power innovative, high-tech advances," says SUNY Poly interim president Dr Grace Wang.

"This award will drive hands-on research opportunities for a number of graduate students to provide them with an even stronger background in the technologies that are shaping our future," comments interim provost Dr Steven Schneider.

The ARL has recognized the importance of developing a US base for MUSiC, says Sung. "As this project develops, I look forward to the numerous opportunities that may result, for the establishment of the ‘MUSiC' will provide a foundation for further R&D," he adds. "It will also serve as an invaluable hands-on educational vehicle for SUNY Poly students."

The ARL award also follows another recent announcement of $375,000 in funding for Sung's research from the US Department of Energy (DOE) for the development of next-generation power electronics chips that are smaller and more efficient than existing power electronics chips.

As an emerging power semiconductor material with properties that make it the prime candidate for next-generation high-voltage switching devices for military and commercial applications, SiC-based power devices have been demonstrated to provide greater than twice the power density of the ubiquitous silicon power devices and at greater efficiency.