Wide Bandgap Semiconductors
As devices have become smaller and more energy-hungry, the demand has sky-rocketed for electronics that can withstand their high power and intense temperatures. A solution is wide bandgap semiconductors, which have great thermal, chemical and mechanical stability. Building on their long history with such semiconductors, SSIM researchers have recently developed unique facilities for fabricating them, micromachining them and transforming them into devices. They have already instituted a new model that will allow them to do production research on growing the materials. For instance, one of the materials with remarkable thermal and electronic properties is silicon carbine. On this material, they have built diodes, power-regulator circuits, and transistor-type components that can handle soaring temperatures. This severe thermal activity allows the device to withstand tremendously high power densities.
Such capabilities give wide bandgap semiconductors myriad applications. Hybrid vehicles and other devices, for example, demand extreme power that could be delivered by such semiconductors. For the power industry, they would allow a switch from the currently used, mechanical regulation of power output to an efficient electronic system that would work on a much larger scale. Government agencies also seek the means for power management, particularly following natural or other disasters that can cause damage to vast geographic areas. Currently, no mobile power systems have the regulators or electronics to manage such enormous demands without having huge cooling systems. Wide bandgap semiconductors, however, could easily operate at the higher temperatures, and therefore the high power required to run these mobile systems, and quickly restore electricity and other utilities to residents and businesses.
Wide bandgap semiconductors, micro fuel cells, and smart transformers will all have a place in the years to come, and SSIM researchers are helping to bring that future much closer to the present.