Scandium Aluminum Nitride Emerges as New Wide-Bandgap Material

February 8, 2019 Alix Paultre

Scientists from the University of Freiburg, the Sustainability Center Freiburg, and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are exploring scandium aluminum nitride (ScAlN), which may be better suited for future power electronics. The project is called “Research of Functional Semiconductor Structures for Energy Efficient Power Electronics.”

ScAlN is a piezoelectric semiconductor material with a high dielectric strength, and the aim of the project is to grow lattice-matched ScAlN on a GaN layer and to use the resulting heterostructures to process transistors with high current carrying capacity. These devices reach a higher power density per chip surface as well as higher switching speeds and higher operating temperatures.

By combining both materials, GaN and ScAlN, the effort aims to double the maximal possible output power while significantly lowering the energy demand. One of the biggest challenges of the project is crystal growth, and the project team must develop growth recipes and empirical values for this material during the coming months in order to reach reproducible results and to produce layer structures that can successfully be used for power electronic applications.

The research project is a cooperation between the University of Freiburg, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF, and the Sustainability Center Freiburg as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB in Erlangen, which is a member of the High-Performance Center for Electronic Systems in Erlangen.

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