High-temperature Silicon Carbide Electronics (HITSIC)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Electronic and Electrical Engineering


The project aims to research and develop a novel semiconductor process to fabricate low-voltage electronics. The material used in the process is silicon carbide (SiC). Silicon carbide has excellent high-temperature properties. This means that electronics fabricated using SiC can operate potentially at temperatures as high as 600Celsius. This compares with limits of 150 Celsius for Silicon-based electronics; the standard material used for electronics. Other novel materials such a Gallium-Arsenide and Gallium-Nitride can operate at higher temperatures than Silicon, but their development has been so far restricted to radio-frequency applications.High-temperature electronics, particularly power semiconductors used in power applications, have recently been developed to the prototype stage, with simple devices like diodes now appearing on the market. As more complex power semiconductor devices reach the market there will be a need for control electronics to operate and control the devices. Our proposal aims to develop a novel process that allows fabrication of low-voltage control electronics on silicon carbide. This will allow the control electronics to be integrated with the power devices and operate at high temperatures.In addition to the power electronic applications described, the technology will allow electronics to operate in harsh and extreme environments. One example is sensor equipment for oil- and gas-well applications. Significant fuel reserves exist below 5km but at these depths temperatures exceed the capabilities of existing electronics technology. The technology proposed, when integrated in down-hole applications, will realise cheaper, more compact equipment that eases some of the technical challenges of reaching deep oil and gas reserves.The technology proposed can be applied to a number of key energy sectors including power generation, electrical transmission and distribution, electrical energy utilisation, transportation and energy storage. Benefits accrue from the improved efficiency and reduced cost that the adoption of silicon-carbide devices realises. The research proposed will therefore have a significant impact on many aspects of the energy use of developed and developing nations.


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Clark D (2011) High Temperature Silicon Carbide CMOS Integrated Circuits in Materials Science Forum

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McGonigal J.A. (2009) Research and development of an extreme temperature silicon carbide CMOS semiconductor process in Proceedings - 2009 IMAPS International Conference on High Temperature Electronics Network, HiTEN 2009

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Ramsay E.P. (2012) Digital and analogue integrated circuits in silicon carbide for high temperature operation in Proceedings - IMAPS International Conference and Exhibition on High Temperature Electronics, HiTEC 2012

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Thompson R.F. (2011) High temperature silicon carbide CMOS integrated circuits in Proceedings - 2011 IMAPS International Conference on High Temperature Electronics Network, HiTEN 2011

Description As previously, reported the collaborative project pioneered the development of Silicon Carbide Integrated Circuits. This facilitated the use of integrated electronics at temperatures well beyod those achievable with conventional silicon devices. Results of this project will have significant impact in electronic designs for harsh environments. The text below was taken from from Raytheon releases to Semiconductor Today:" Raytheon UK's Integrated Power Solutions (IPS) business unit in Glenrothes, Scotland, has developed a high-temperature, small-form-factor bridge leg power module. Aimed at high-speed switching applications, the module has potential uses in the aerospace sector as it requires minimal external cooling and presents considerable weight-saving opportunities within the More Electric Aircraft power system. Also, by supporting applications in harsh environments and in meeting high operating temperature demands, the module can also be used in the geothermal power and oil and gas sectors.

A prototype module that includes two 1200V silicon carbide (SiC) bipolar junction transistors (BJTs) has currently amassed more than 1000 hours of stable operation at 300oC (a temperature at which traditional silicon-based semiconductors cannot operate). Tests on the module have been performed switching 500V at room temperature and switching 200V at 300oC. The BJTs are controlled by integrated base driver circuitry, fabricated using Raytheon's propriety High Temperature Silicon Carbide (HiTSiC) process.

"The co-location of BJT base driver circuitry and power transistors into a single high-temperature module is a major industry breakthrough," claims David Gordon, technical lead with Raytheon's IPS. "For example, in many instances it is necessary to switch power-stage transistors at tens of kHz, and that requires getting the base driver circuitry as close as possible to the power transistors. However, in a high-temperature environment, that presents a problem," he notes. "While silicon carbide transistors can switch high voltage and handle high temperatures, traditional silicon-based gate driver circuitry cannot cope with the heat. Silicon-on-insulator (SOI) raises the bar to about 220oC, but that's still not high enough for some existing and emerging applications for power electronics. Raytheon's HiTSiC CMOS circuitry on the other hand was designed to operate at 300oC, and has been tested at considerably higher temperatures." "The silicon carbide foundry is the first of its kind in the UK and represents the fusion of Raytheon's investment in UK manufacturing technology with university expertise, backed by UK Government funding from the Technology Strategy Board," said the Right Honorable Michael Moore (the Secretary of State for Scotland), who opened the foundry. "This scientific and engineering endeavour born out of Raytheon Glenrothes has placed Scotland in a unique leadership position globally, enhanced by universities across the UK," he added. "The investment has created a team of world-class engineering specialists working in the production of silicon carbide devices and systems designed to operate at high temperatures, specialists who will continue to shape and influence advanced manufacturing processes and technologies."
Exploitation Route The findings of this project were commercialized by the industry partner.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Electronics,Energy

URL http://www.semiconductor-today.com/news_items/2016/jul/raytheonuk_140716.shtml
Description The findings of this research were commercialized by the industry partner Raytheon. See: https://www.raytheon.com/rtnwcm/groups/gallery/documents/digitalasset/rtn_197809.pdf
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Electronics,Energy
Impact Types Economic

Description Quietening ultra-low-loss SiC & GaN waveforms, EP/R029504/1
Amount £1,944,910 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R029504/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2018 
End 06/2022
Description Collaboration with Raytheon Systems Ltd (RSL) High Temperature Silicon Carbide Electronics (HITSIC) 
Organisation Raytheon Systems Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Grant TS/G000417/1 was part of a TSB industrial collaboration project with RSL Glenrothes in which the University supported the development of High Temperature SiC CMOS devices and processes. The grant finished in 2012 and details of commercial exploitation are given inb the TSB report submitted in June 2012.
Collaborator Contribution RSL woked collaboratively with Strathclde on the development of SiC CMOS devices and manufactured test samples at their facility in Glenrothes. The HITSIC development program has continued on a commercial basis at RSL. RSL contact Mr David Clark
Impact Conference publications -- See Final Report submitted via Je-S in 2012. Commercial Exploitation of HiTSIC devices by RSL
Start Year 2008