Developing the instrumentation required to support the industrial uptake of new, more energy efficient, materials.
Europe’s Green Deal aims for climate neutrality by 2050 . The implementation of semiconductors based on ‘wide bandgap ’ compounds such as Gallium nitride, Silicon Carbide and Gallium Oxide into power electronics have the potential to make lighting 75% more efficient, motor-driven appliances 40% more efficient, and consumer electronics up to 30% more efficient. However, material performance is highly sensitive to nanoscale defects. Present optical techniques do not have the resolution in the required range (<100 nanometres) to detect flaws and more sensitive techniques have not been applied to these materials. To encourage industrial uptake requires new instrumentation, along with in-line and off-line characterisation techniques, to establish how specific defects impact on device performance.
This project will use optical scatterometric, spectroscopic and signal processing techniques to allow rapid (< 1 minute), accurate and non-destructive, in-line detection of nanoscale (< 100 nm) defects in industrially relevant compound semiconductor wafers and dies. Advanced off-line microscopy methods will be developed to characterise semiconductors in the 5 nanometre to 10 micrometre range with a spatial resolution better than 50 nanometres.
Key measurements that determine the quality of compound semiconductors will be identified and the effects of different types of defects on a materials’ optoelectronic properties and on the performance of a range of power electronic devices investigated.
Project results will aid the competitiveness of the semi-conductor industry and improve the reliability and performance of devices in all areas using wide-band materials, such as electric vehicles, 5G networks and electricity ‘smart’ grids, ultimately supporting Europe’s transition to a green economy.