Underpinning Power Electronics switch optimisation Theme

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Sch of Engineering

Abstract

Silicon carbide (SiC) N-channel IGBTs have the potential to enable new and highly efficient ultrahigh voltage (10 kV+) applications such as the Smart Grid and HVDC, enabling a low carbon society. However, to date, only four research groups have reported on their successful development, due to the considerable challenge associated with their fabrication. Exploiting a consortium made up of experts from the fields of SiC materials, simulation and fabrication, and building on a recent history of SiC MOSFET, Si IGBT and SiC materials research, the aim of the Switch Optimisation theme of Underpinning Power Electronics is to be amongst the first groups in Europe and the world to develop these devices, and to push the boundaries of what has been achieved in this fledgling field to date. Once a quality benchmarked ~15 kV SiC IGBT process is developed as the first milestone in this project, the process will be modified to explore areas not to-date explored, including the development of lower voltage (5-10 kV) SiC IGBTs benchmarked to SiC MOSFETs, trench SiC IGBTs, and novel topologies such as hybrid SiC MOSFET-IGBTs. The consortium will all work together towards these ambitious goals, with the work packages split by expertise (materials development, simulation, fabrication and testing) to cut across each of the objectives.

Planned Impact

The improvement of the power electronics devices can impact on multiple sectors. Particular emphasis has been in the energy grid which is currently undergoing a shift to more mixed and variable power supply which will require more effective power devices capable of withstanding the more extreme conditions. The UK itself is currently seeing increased power supply from renewable energy highlighting the importance of power management capable of withstanding surges due to the variable nature of this electricity source. The high voltage IGBTs that will be developed will have their biggest impact in this sector benefitting from the use of being developed in SiC to cope with the extreme conditions. Traction is another major application set to benefit from these devices. Increasing electrification across this sector now and into the future guarantees the economic impact of developing these new power devices. We will work with our existing industrial collaborators as well as establishing new collaborations through the Centre to ensure we adapt the technology developed to the changing needs of the companies in this sector.
The project benefits hugely from being within the ESPRC Centre for Power Electronics. The network of industrialists and academics already affiliated with the Centre is extensive and diverse, and this project has the advantage of having regular direct access to this vast community, and will therefore be integral to achieving impact from this project. The annual conference, researcher network events and industrial events are all established events and platforms on which we can reach a wide audience to disseminate our findings. A workshop specifically dedicated to this theme will be organised with the full support of the Centre towards the end of the project. This will promote the work being carried out in this area by this consortium, and by those across Europe working in this area. The Centre's Marketing and Communications Officer will help us reach a much wider audience than possible alone, publicising findings, coordinating press releases, maximising social media impact and helping to maximise web traffic. The Centre also has funds available for dissemination activities that fall outside of these extensive possibilities and hence no further dissemination funds have been requested. The group intends to suggest using this to participate in outreach activities for the younger generation at shows such as New Scientist Live and the Cheltenham Science Festival.
The Centre has strong established links with key industrial partners and, as well as accessing this community through the above dissemination events, they will play a direct role in monitoring and steering the project as part of the Centre's Steering and Advisory Group (STAG) who perform an annual review.

Publications

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Dai T (2019) Design Optimization of 1.2kV 4H-SiC Trench MOSFET in Materials Science Forum

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Dai T (2021) A Compact Trench-Assisted Space-Modulated JTE Design for High-Voltage 4H-SiC Devices in IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices

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Lioliou G (2022) Mo/4H-SiC Schottky diodes for room temperature X-ray and ? -ray spectroscopy in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment

 
Description A power device has been designed and optimised that could impact applications including the national grid, renewable energy and other 21st Cerntury applications. A silicon carbide IGBT has been optimised with a novel layout, that will demonstrate the efficiency of these devices compared to other, more established technologies, such as MOSFETs. At 10kV, these devices, made from wide bandgap semiconductor material silicon carbide, have a higher voltage rating than any established silicon device currently on the market.

Initial prototypes of the SiC IGBT have been developed that can block 10 kV , and shows good on-state performance. Work continues to complete these devices dur to COVID delays.
Exploitation Route The Steering and Advisory Group (STAG) of the EPSRC Centre for Power Electronics are regularly update with the progress of the project. The STAG comprises of engineering experts from across the UK power sector. The results from this project therefore have a direct feedthrough to industry, while the development activities are also shaped by feedback from this panel.
Sectors Electronics,Energy,Transport

 
Description Knowledge Exchange Awards - ASSATTA
Amount £90,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2019 
End 05/2020
 
Description TESiC-SuperJ - Trench Epitaxy for SiC Superjunctions: technology enabling low loss HVDC power electronics.
Amount £398,801 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/W004291/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2021 
End 09/2024
 
Description Switch Optimisation Research Team 
Organisation Coventry University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is the research team that was put together for the Underpinning Power Electronics switch optimisation Theme. We are all working collaboratively, across the institutions towards the goals and objectivesof the research proposed.
Collaborator Contribution -- Cambridge and Coventry operate as the design house, they produce simulations that optimise the development of high voltage SiC power devices. -- Warwick and Newcastle are specialists in SiC power device development, and develop the devices in their cleanrooms.
Impact Research papers in preparation.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Switch Optimisation Research Team 
Organisation Newcastle University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is the research team that was put together for the Underpinning Power Electronics switch optimisation Theme. We are all working collaboratively, across the institutions towards the goals and objectivesof the research proposed.
Collaborator Contribution -- Cambridge and Coventry operate as the design house, they produce simulations that optimise the development of high voltage SiC power devices. -- Warwick and Newcastle are specialists in SiC power device development, and develop the devices in their cleanrooms.
Impact Research papers in preparation.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Switch Optimisation Research Team 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is the research team that was put together for the Underpinning Power Electronics switch optimisation Theme. We are all working collaboratively, across the institutions towards the goals and objectivesof the research proposed.
Collaborator Contribution -- Cambridge and Coventry operate as the design house, they produce simulations that optimise the development of high voltage SiC power devices. -- Warwick and Newcastle are specialists in SiC power device development, and develop the devices in their cleanrooms.
Impact Research papers in preparation.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Automotive Forum Presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Invited to give talk at the EETimes Advanced Automotive Tech Forum, mostly attended by the automotive industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.automotiveforum.eetimes.com/
 
Description Centre for Power Electronics Annual Conference 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Dates: 3 & 4 July 2019

Location: Holywell Park Conference Centre, Loughborough University

Once again, our Annual Conference proved highly popular, with delegates having the opportunity to hear from experts in the field, find out more about the work of the Centre, to learn about our latest research and to network with colleagues.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.powerelectronics.ac.uk/events/event-records/centre-for-power-electronics-annual-conferenc...
 
Description Futurum Outreach articles 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Engaged with Futurum to produce material for School/College age young adults. In the link below, an article, exercise, PowerPoint and cartoon are all freely downloadable to school teachers across the world.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://futurumcareers.com/how-can-electronics-engineers-help-to-power-the-green-transition
 
Description Industrial Workshop: SiC devices, reliability, converters and applications - tutorial 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact SiC devices, reliability, converters and applications - tutorial

In this tutorial, leading academics from the Centre for Power Electronics will give an overview of the current status of wide band-gap technology, highlighting the need for the technology, its applications and the key challenges that remain.

The tutorial is for anyone in academia or industry who wishes to understand more about this exciting field, including PhD students.

Location: Advanced Propulsion Centre at the University of Warwick

Date: 9 October 2019
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.powerelectronics.ac.uk/events/event-records/sic-devices-reliability-converters-and-applic...
 
Description Interview on piworld.co.uk Podcast/Videocast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Invited by Tech Investors programme (podcast/videocast) to give an intorduction to Silicon Carbide - devices, applications, companies. Intended purpose was to 'spread the gospel' of SiC, and to raise profile of our work. Promoted the Centre for Power Electronics and our project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2XCYzGT8vY