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PEATER - Research

The 5-minute video below shows the capabilities available within the PEATER group for Epitaxial Growth of Silicon Carbide, Materials Characterisation, Silicon Carbide Device Fabrication, and Assembly and Packaging of silicon carbide devices.

Project Title Project Overview Sponsoring Company Project Duration Academic Responsible
Warwick Research Staff/Students
Novel
Interlayer Cooling for the Harsh Environment (NICHE)

Interlayer Cooling for the Harsh Environment (NICHE)
To produce a range of novel semiconductor substrates
that combine the benefits of silicon carbide (high thermal conductivity and breakdown electric field) with those of thin films of silicon or germanium (fast switching, good oxide interface, simple processing). Power devices, CMOS and photonic devices implemented in
these substrates will be expected to operate in high temperature, harsh environment applications such as downhole, space and automotive.
Royal
Academy of Engineering
1/3/2012
-1/3/2017
Dr Peter Gammon Chun Wa Chan
Integrated, Market-fit and Affordable Grid-scale Energy Storage (IMAGES)   EPSRC 1/9/2012-31/8/2017 Prof Jihong Wang  
Silicon Carbide Power Electronics: The Route to
Energy Resilience (SiCER)
This project brings together the combined expertise of materials, power semiconductor components and energy conversion systems companies, and academic experts. 10 kV SiC power MOSFETs for smart grid application in voltage source converters (VSCs) will be developed. Innovate UK in collaboration with Dynex Semiconductor Ltd., Eltek Semiconductors Ltd. and Alstom Grid UK. 1/4/2014 -1/4/2017 Dr Mike Jennings Dr Stephen Russell
HubNet Development of future networks for the transportation of energy into and within the country EPSRC 1/6/2011-31/5/2016 Prof. Phil Mawby Craig Fisher
Vehicle Electrical Systems Integration (VESI) Reduce the cost and increase the power density of the electrical motor and power electronics in electric vehicles, necessary to bring electric vehicles to the mass market EPSRC 1/10/2011-30/9/2015 Prof. Phil Mawby Fan Li Dr David Martin
Transformation of the Top and Tail of Energy Networks Development of future energy networks EPSRC 1/5/2011 - 30/4/2015 Prof. Phil Mawby Hua Rong
Condition Monitoring Power Electronics for Reliability (COMPERE) Develop a new approach of monitoring power electronic converter device degradation over a period of time and provide the ability to predict failures before they happen. EPSRC 4/9/2007- Prof. Phil Mawby  
Underpinning Power Electronics This project is one of the four themes that are part of the Centre for Power Electronics, which was funded £4.1M by the EPSRC in July 2013, which aims to be the UK's internationally recognised provider of world-leading, underpinning power electronics research. The Devices theme focuses on the basic building block of power electronics - i.e. semiconductor components. EPSRC 19/8/2013-18/8/2019 Prof. Phil Mawby Dr Vishal Shah Dr David Martin
Si on SiC for the Harsh Environment of Space (SaSHa) SaSHa is the largest ever Si/SiC project and will begin in February 2016, funded for two years by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. Concentrating on the development of power electronics devices specifically for Space applications, the devices will be designed to withstand temperatures as high as 300°C and as low as -150°C, and in high radiation conditions. EU/H2020 15/2/2016-14/2/2018 Dr Peter Gammon Fan Li Chunwa Chan

 

Novel Interlayer Cooling for the Harsh Environment (NICHE)

The Aim of the NICHE Project is to produce a new generation of silicon (Si) and germanium (Ge) electronic devices that can impact a variety of applications, by combining these materials with the high power, high temperature and ultra-hard material, silicon carbide (SiC). A wide bandgap semiconductor material, SiC is famed for its high breakdown electric field, and its thermal conductivity, which is as high as copper’s. On substrates of SiC, we are fabricating Si and Ge electronic devices such as transistors, diodes and indeed full integrated circuitry, that will all be provided with a performance boost as waste heat is efficiently transferred away from the active areas of each device. Furthermore, photodiodes, solar cells and photonic structures will be formed within exploratory Ge/SiC substrates.

The key Si/SiC Technology looks to have an impact on high temperature electronics, in applications such as down-hole drilling, space, electric cars and aerospace. This technology looks to improve on the efficiency of existing bulk silicon and Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) device architectures, which have already stretched Si device operation to 300°C.

The project homepage may be found here: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/eng/staff/pmg/niche/

 

Silicon Carbide Power Electronics: The Route to Energy Resilience (SiCER)

This project brings together the combined expertise of materials, power semiconductor components and energy conversion systems companies, and academic experts, to develop solutions for grid-level high power electronic converters. The experience developed on this project will enable the consortium companies to develop higher power, energy efficient, compact, low cost converters that will harden and demonstrate UK-based expertise and help to accelerate the adoption of smart grid technology. In addition, this project will contribute to the reduced carbon emissions targets (UK & EU).

The main key to achieving this goal is to demonstrate HV SiC MOSFETs and diodes in order to create higher power energy efficient grid-level converters with a reduced number of components, resulting in further savings in terms of size, cost and reliability benefits. Moreover, SiC MOSFET technology will allow for a more resilient energy system through providing more robust power converters that are able to tolerate disturbances, provide affordable energy through reduced electricity consumption and are essential in terms of realising sustained renewable sources via an intelligent smart grid.

HubNet

Achieving the decarbonisation of the economy while maintaining the security and reliability of the energy supply will require a profound transformation of the networks used to transport energy into and within the country. While the need is clear, the final shape of these networks is not and getting there will require a considerable amount of research. The creation of a hub will catalyse and focus the research on energy networks in the UK. In particular, this hub will provide research leadership in the field through the publication of in-depth position papers written by leaders in the field and the organisation of workshops and other mechanisms for the exchange of ideas between researchers and between researchers, industry and the public sector. It will also spur the development of innovative solutions by sponsoring speculative research in uncharted areas.

The activities of the members of the hub will focus on five areas that have been identified as key to the development of future energy networks:

  • Design of smart grids, in particular the application of communication technologies to the operation of electricity networks and the harnessing of the demand-side for the control and optimisation of the power system.
  • Development of a mega-grid that would link the UK's energy network to renewable energy sources off shore, across Europe and beyond.
  • Research on how new materials (such as nano-composites, ceramic composites and graphene-based materials) can be used to design power equipments that are more efficient and more compact.
  • Development of new techniques to study the interaction between multiple energy vectors and optimally coordinate the planning and operation of energy networks under uncertainty.
  • Management of transition assets: while a significant amount of new network equipment will need to be installed in the coming decades, this new construction is dwarfed by the existing asset base. It is thus essential to study how the life of existing equipment can be extended under what is likely to be more extreme conditions.

Investigators from the Universities Imperial College, Warwick, Nottingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester, Southampton and Strathclyde form the core of this hub. However, other academics carrying out research in energy networks or related topics as well as industrial companies and public bodies will be encouraged to become associated members of HubNet and to contribute to its activities in setting a research agenda and seeking opportunities to collaborate in additional research and development activities.

Further information can be found on the HubNet website.

 

Vehicle Electrical Systems Integration (VESI)

The urgent need for electric vehicle (EV) technology is clear. Consequently, this project is concerned with two key issues, namely the cost and power density of the electrical drive system, both of which are key barriers to bringing EVs to the mass market. To address these issues a great deal of underpinning basic research needs to be carried out. Here, we have analysed and divided the problem into 6 key themes and propose to build a number of demonstrators to showcase the advances made in the underlying science and engineering.

We envisage that over the coming decades EVs in one or more variant forms will achieve substantial penetration into European and global automotive markets, particularly for cars and vans. The most significant barrier impeding the commercialisation EVs is currently the cost. Not until cost parity with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles is achieved will it become a seriously viable choice for most consumers. The high cost of EVs is often attributed to the cost of the battery, when in fact the cost of the electrical power train is much higher than that of the ICE vehicle. It is reasonable to assume that that battery technology will improve enormously in response to this massive market opportunity and as a result will cease to be the bottleneck to development as is currently perceived in some quarters. We believe that integration of the electrical systems on an EV will deliver substantial cost reductions to the fledgling EV market

Our focus will therefore be on the two major areas of the electrical drive train that is generic to all types of EVs, the electrical motor and the power electronics. Our drivers will be to reduce cost and increase power density, whilst never losing sight of issues concerning manufacturability for a mass market.

Further information can be found on the VESI website.

 

Transformation of the Top and Tail of Energy Networks

There are two very particular places in energy networks where existing network technology and infrastructure needs radical change to move us to a low carbon economy. At the Top of network, i.e. the very highest transmission voltages, the expected emergence of transcontinental energy exchange in Europe (and elsewhere) that is driven by exploitation of diversity in renewable sources and diversity in load requires radical innovation in technologies. Many of these proposed interconnectors will be submarine or underground cable and High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) must be used. Power ratings for the voltage source AC/DC converters for HVDC use are presently around 500 MW while the need is for links of up to 20 GW. A change of this magnitude requires radical innovation in technology. To focus our research in HVDC cable technology and power converters we have defined target ratings of 1 MV and 5 kA.

The Tail of the network is the so-called last mile and behind the meter wiring into customer premises. More than half the capital cost of an electricity system is sunk in the last mile and cost and disruption barriers have made it resistant to change. Not only have recent changes in consumer electronics yet to impact network design, there are radical changes in future heat and transport services that need to be met. The challenge is to reengineer the way in which the last mile assets are used without changing the most expensive part: the cables and pipes in the ground. To get this right means starting with a fresh look at the energy services required and seeing what flexibility there is to meet the service expectation differently.

A consortium of universities has been brought together to address this transformation of our energy networks. Several of the bid partners have had leading roles in Supergen consortia in the networks area but this consortium includes new partners whose expertise, especially in the power electronics field, is strongly indicated as game-changing. For the first time, the power electronics researchers in Warwick, Nottingham, Imperial and Strathclyde and the insulation materials groups in Manchester and Southampton are proposing to work together bringing developments of underpinning technologies to bear on network issues. These technology developments are folded into the energy network planning and operations work of Strathclyde, Manchester, Cardiff and Imperial. Birmingham brings energy economics expertise and Imperial expertise in energy policy and the social science of consumer acceptance. Several important industrial companies are engaged with this programme to form our scientific advisory board and to pick up and use results that emerge. These in clued network operators such as National Grid and Central Networks, equipment manufacturers such as Alstom Grid and Converteam and component manufacturers such as Dynnex and Dow Chemicals. Although the proposed project will address major challenges of technology, we recognise that transforming our energy networks is not merely a technical question. Members of the consortium already have links with civil servants and advisors in a number of administrations in the UK including DECC, the Scottish Government, WAG and NIE. These links allow us to understand the context in which energy policy is made. Consortium members have given advice to Ofgem on the Low Carbon Networks Fund, Parliamentary Select Committees and have been active in projects commissioned through the Energy Technologies Institute. Thus although the focus of your project is on a timescale of 20-40 years the results of our research will impact network development much earlier. Discussions to date with our partners in these organisations suggest a great deal of excitement about what work on the Energy Networks Grand Challenge can contribute.

Further information can be found on the Top and Tail website

 

Condition Monitoring Power Electronics for Reliability (COMPERE)

Power Electronic Converters are key elements in many safety-critical, high-reliability, electrical systems working in uncertain and harsh environments. Examples include aerospace power supplies and servo converters, marine propulsion and traction drives, and offshore renewable energy generator systems. The traditional approaches to achieve high converter reliability are to de-rate the semiconductor devices and to include redundancy in the system configuration. These approaches can increase the Mean Time Between Failures of converters but will not prevent a catastrophic failure from happening. The aim of this research is to develop a new approach of monitoring the converter device degradation over a period of time and provide the ability to predict failures before they happen. The research will address the challenges of carrying out and understanding the results of key measurements in order to derive information about the internal state of the semiconductor devices in real-time operating conditions. The mechanisms leading to the aging and failure of the devices will be investigated, and a relationship between the device condition and its terminal characteristics established. Condition monitoring techniques will be based on converter terminal electrical signals, which are interpreted together with information about the thermal and load conditions of the converter system. Experiment, and computer modelling and simulation in the thermal, low frequency and high frequency electrical domains will be carried out to develop the condition monitoring techniques. The results will be valuable to device manufacturers, manufacturers of power electronic converters, and to the end users of such systems, particularly in critical applications.

Si on SiC for the Harsh Environment of Space (SaSHa)

The SaSHa Project (Si-on-SiC for the Harsh Environment of Space) received €1M of funding from the European Commission's 2015 H2020 Competitiveness of the European Space Sector call (COMPET-03-2015: Bottom-up space technologies at low TRL). This 2-year project, which began in February 2016, brings together experts from across the value chain of semiconductor device design, fabrication and testing to produce a new generation of power devices designed to operate efficiently within the unique environment of space.

Current and future space applications that can benefit from improved power solutions include ion propulsion technologies, used for drag compensation in ESA’s GOCE Satellite and in delivering the BepiColombo spacecraft to Mercury. Furthermore, a drive for high voltage distribution to reduce cable weight in numerous satellite and explorer applications will be enabled by high voltage electronics. However, the challenge of space is one of reliability and efficiency in extreme conditions, where both high and low temperatures are present as well as severe background radiation, that can slowly deteriorate, or even instantly destroy critical devices.

The SaSHa project is specifically focussed on accelerating the development of an entirely new generation of power electronics semiconductors devices benefitting both space and several terrestrial applications. Exploiting the high voltage and high temperature properties of SiC, and the electrical performance of Si and silicon-on-insulator technologies, the resulting power devices will be especially equipped to cope with the harsh environment of space.

Proof of concept prototypes power devices (diodes, lateral MOSFETs and lateral IGBTs) will be developed that incorporate a novel Si-on-SiC (Si/SiC) substrate solution into state-of-the-art device architectures. The resulting power devices will be capable of working at voltage ratings from 50 to 600 V, in extreme radiation conditions and at temperatures up to 300°C, characteristics unavailable in the current power market, let alone for space.

Further information can be found on the SaSHa website