Wide Band Gap technologies: An opportunity to increase power devices performance

When people think about Wide Band Gap (WBG) materials for power electronics applications, they usually think of GaN or SiC. This is a not a surprise: indeed SiC and GaN are currently the most advanced WBG technologies for power electronics applications. However, there are materials with an even larger band gap which can further increase power device performance. What is the development status of such innovative technologies? Are there already some products available on the market? What is the added-value of such materials?

Yole Développement (Yole) proposes a comprehensive overview of the whole WBG solutions dedicated to the power electronics industry. This survey is entitled SiC, GaN and other WBG materials for power electronics applications. Including a detailed analysis of the most advanced WBG materials, SiC and GaN, Yole’s report also highlights the added-value of disruptive technologies such as Ga2O3, diamond and AlN. Yole’s analysts detail the status of such new solutions and the related technology roadmap. The “More than Moore” market research and strategy consulting company also presents the technical and market challenges facing WBG players.

wbj materials

As the Si technology is reaching the theoretical limits, new semiconductor materials called wide band gap (WBG) is becoming the new choice for power electronics applications. Different WBG materials are SiC, GaN, Ga2O3, Diamond and AlN. The development status of these WBG materials varies from one to other. Indeed SiC and GaN-on-Si based power devices are commercially available today; the development of GaN-on-GaN power devices is ongoing; Ga2O3, diamond and AlN power devices are just at a primitive stage. And Yole details:

  Thanks to its high band gap and doping possibility at room temperature, Ga2O3 has been proposed for power electronics applications. Compared to existing SiC and bulk GaN technology, GaSO3 key selling point is the possibility of using melt growth to make large, inexpensive wafers. Under this process, much little energy is used compared to energy-consuming methods employed for GaN and SiC bulk crystals and substrates creation: sublimation, vapor phase epitaxy, and high-pressure synthesis.

“It is estimated that the power dissipated per-unit-area of substrate at the time of production is just one-third of that associated with SiC sublimation, due to a lower growth temperature and a higher growth rate,” explained Dr. Hong Lin, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole. “As the same system configuration for sapphire is used, it should be possible to make cheaper Ga2O3 substrates than bulk GaN or SiC. If there is demand, it should be also possible to make 6” Ga2O3 substrates at a low unit cost. However, the demand is quite limited so far and the price remains high.”

  Diamond is the ideal candidate for power electronic applications, thanks to a combination of unique properties. Electronics applications identified by Yole are Schottky diodes, transistors, etc. They require high-quality single-crystalline CVD diamond.

  Having initially targeted UV LED applications but finding subpar demand, some AlN suppliers are now targeting the power market in order to diversify their activities. AlN’s key value proposition for power applications is the fact that it has the largest band gap.

Under its WBG materials report, Yole’s analysts reveal the state-of-the-art materials like SiC, GaN, Ga2O3, diamond, and AlN. They define a comprehensive technology roadmap and propose a deep understanding of the WBG materials evolution in the power electronics sector.

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