22 September 2021
CSC participating in €1.7m PowerElec project on metrology tools for wide-bandgap quality control
The Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC, a joint venture founded in 2015 between Cardiff University and epiwafer foundry and substrate maker IQE plc of Cardiff, Wales, UK) – which is a partner in the CSconnected compound semiconductor cluster formed in South Wales in 2017 – has announced its participation in PowerElec, a new €1.7m project within the European Metrology Programme for Innovation and Research (EMPIR-EURAMET) running from June 2021 to May 2024 to develop and apply new metrological tools for quality control of wide-bandgap semiconductors.
As a key technology for the electrification of transport, smart-energy distribution and next-generation communications, power electronics is expected to aid the UK’s ‘green recovery’ and net-zero ambitions. The next generation of power electronics will be driven by the shift from silicon to wide-bandgap compound semiconductor materials (gallium nitride, silicon carbide and, in future, gallium oxide), which offer huge performance benefits in terms of efficiency, weight, high-frequency and high-temperature performance over existing silicon-based solutions. However, their sensitivity to nanoscale material defects presents a barrier to upscaling and commercial adoption. The project will develop new instrumentation, non-destructive measurement methods and agreed standards for the characterization of wafer quality at multiple levels in the material and device fabrication process.
The project is led by the UK National Physical Laboratory, with key European industry partners (Infineon, IQE, Aixtron, CSC) as well as other national metrology institutes and international standards organizations to support the growth of European compound semiconductor supply chains.
“Metrology is often undervalued in a transition from development to commercialization, but it is critical to have comprehensive metrology to support yield and cost control when scaling new semiconductor technologies,” says Rob Harper, GaN Programme Manager at CSC. “The activity will complement CSC’s activities in GaN-on-SiC and GaN-on-silicon RF and power epitaxial products, which include lateral HEMTs and vertical trench FETs,” he adds.
“The UK has a leading position in compound semiconductor materials technology, centred on the South Wales CSconnected Cluster, and we are pleased to be part of a new European ecosystem to address high-growth segments in a global power electronics market worth in excess of $35bn per annum,” comments CSC’s director Wyn Meredith.