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Two new projects in Si/SiC harsh environment electronics

Dr. Peter Gammon at the School of Engineering at Warwick will lead two new projects in which novel power electronic transistors are developed for harsh environment applications. Using the benefits of two very different semiconductors, silicon and silicon carbide (Si and SiC), in one package, the hybrid devices will be able to tolerate extremes in temperature, radiation and vibration.

The first project will concentrate on developing these devices for space applications. The project, entitled SaSHa (Si on SiC for the Harsh Environment of Space), is a 2 year, €1M project funded by the EU’s H2020 programme. This will see lateral power transistors developed in a thin film of Si that sits on a thick substrate of SiC. The resulting power devices will be capable of working at voltage ratings from 50 to 600 V, in high radiation conditions and at temperatures up to 300°C, characteristics unavailable in the current power market, let alone for Space.

The team at Warwick, consisting of Dr. Gammon, Prof. Phil Mawby and Prof. Julian Gardner, will lead the consortium and fabricate the ne Si/SiC devices in their bespoke cleanroom. The UK SME, Cambridge Microelectronics, will carry out extensive simulations in order to optimise a design layout. The Tyndall Institute in Ireland will produce the novel wafer bonded Si/SiC material, while the Catholic University of Leuven (UCL) will carry out radiation modelling and testing. Thales Alenia Space UK will play a major role in shaping the characteristic of the devices.

A second £125k EPSRC grant will develop Si/SiC power electronics devices to withstand the extreme conditions of the downhole environment, for the oil and gas industry. This is supported by Halliburton and Semelab/TT Electronics. In this environment the devices must operate many kilometres under the ground driving the cutting tool while withstanding heat, shock and vibration.

For further details please refer to Dr. Gammon’s webpage: