LAST POWER Project Aims to Put Europe First in New Power Semiconductor Technologies

October 31, 2010 by Jeff Shepard

The partners in a new publicly-funded European research project announced details of the multinational/multidisciplinary program called LAST POWER (’Large Area silicon carbide Substrates and heTeroepitaxial GaN for POWER device applications).

The aim of this 42-month ENIAC (European Nanoelectronics Initiative Advisory Council) project is to provide Europe with strategic independence in the field of wide band gap (WBG) semiconductors. This field is of major strategic importance as it involves the development of highly energy-efficient systems for all applications that need power, from telecommunications to automotive, from consumer electronics to electrical household appliances, and from industrial applications to home automation.

The consortium will develop European technology for the complete production chain for semiconductor devices built with SiC (Silicon Carbide) and heteroepitaxial GaN (Gallium Nitride on silicon wafers). These two semiconductor materials offer higher speed, current capability, breakdown voltage and thermal capability compared to conventional silicon technologies.

"The power semiconductor market, which represents approximately 30% of the overall semiconductor market, is set to change significantly in response to the ever-increasing demand for more energy-efficient devices," said project coordinator Salvatore Coffa, Group Vice President and R&D General Manager, Industrial and Multisegment Sector, STMicroelectronics. "This key project, which targets secure strategic independence in the emerging field of SiC and GaN technologies, will place Europe at the forefront of energy-efficient devices."

The overall objective of the project is to develop a cost-effective and reliable integration of advanced SiC and GaN semiconductors in the European power microelectronics industry. This will be achieved via five specific objectives:

– Growth of large area (150mm) SiC and high quality heteroepitaxial GaN on 150mm Si wafers, beyond the current worldwide state-of-the-art for substrates, epitaxy and surface preparation;

– Development of new dedicated equipments for material growth, characterization and processing;

– Processing of reliable and efficient SiC and GaN devices on 150mm wafers;

– To demonstrate high-performance devices with properties that cannot be obtained on Si, including a 1200V/100A SiC MOSFET, SiC JFET capable of operating up to 250 degrees C, and GaN HEMT devices for power switching;

– To develop advanced packages for high-temperatures devices and improve device reliability.