Gallium Oxide Substrate Material - A Rising Star

Gallium Oxide Substrate Material - A Rising Star

2021-05-20 19:11:52 168

The emergence of gallium oxide technology

The semiconductor world may have a new player in the form of gallium oxide technology. This material could play a key role in improving electric vehicles, solar energy and other forms of renewable energy, and we need electronic components with more powerful and efficient power handling capabilities. Gallium oxide opens up new possibilities that we can't achieve with existing semiconductors.

The electronics industry is maximizing the use of silicon as much as possible, but it has limitations after all, which is why researchers are exploring other materials such as silicon carbide, gallium nitride and gallium oxide. Although gallium oxide has poor thermal conductivity, its band gap (about 4.8 electron volts or eV) exceeds that of silicon carbide (about 3.4 eV), gallium nitride (about 3.3 eV) and silicon (1.1 eV). The relatively large band gap of 4.8 eV of this new semiconductor means that gallium oxide can outperform, at least in part, current silicon (Si), silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) materials in power electronics, especially when high voltages are converted to low voltages.

Si, SiC, GaN vs Ga 2 O 3 (Image source: Semiconductor Industry Insight)

Semiconductor material properties (Academician Hao Yue)

Status of Gallium Oxide Substrates

Internationally, especially in Japan and the US, the interest in Ga2O3 as a material and its potential applications has grown very fast in the past three years. The breakthrough of Ga2O3 crystal growth technology in recent years has also greatly promoted the research of related thin film epitaxy, solar blind detector, power devices, high brightness UV LEDs and other devices, which is the international research hot spot in the field of ultra-wide band semiconductor. The National Key R&D Program "Strategic Advanced Electronic Materials" has also released a research guideline "Research on ultra-wide band semiconductor materials and devices (basic research)", which has greatly boosted the research interest of related research institutions in China in recent years. In recent years, our scientists have made important progress in the research of GaO materials and devices.

AFRL's (U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory) 2-inch Synoptics GaN oxide transistor with GaN epitaxial layer (Compound Semiconductor)

Formed on a 4-inch diameter sapphire substrate Ga 2 O 3 film (FLosfia official website)

Potential of gallium oxide materials

Gallium oxide is the next generation of ultra-wide bandgap (UWBG) semiconductor material after GaN and SiC, and it is possible to obtain large size Ga2O3 substrates with low defect density by melt method (method of growing sapphire substrates), which makes Ga2O3 devices lower cost compared with GaN and SiC devices. With the rapid development of high-speed rail, electric vehicles and high-voltage grid transmission system, the world urgently needs high-voltage high-power electronic power devices with higher conversion efficiency. Therefore, Ga2O3 provides a more efficient and energy-saving choice.

Si, SiC, GaN vs Ga 2 O 3 (Image source: Semiconductor Industry Insight)

Power Semiconductor Materials Comparison (Translated from by Semiconductor Industry Watch)

Key Material (Si,SiC,GaN,GaO) Characteristics Comparison (IEEE)

Crystal structure of β-phase gallium oxide (network)

Progress of Gallium Oxide Devices

Low defect density GaO substrates up to 4 inches are available, and the epitaxial layers obtained by in-situ homogeneous epitaxy such as MOVPE, MBE and HVPE on GaO substrates have an RMS flatness of about 0.5 nm. The average breakdown electric field of GaO material has reached 5 MV/cm, and the horizontal and vertical vertical GaO Schottky diodes have achieved breakdown voltages of more than 3 kV and 2.2 kV, respectively. Also, depletion/enhancement back-gate MOSFETs have achieved output current densities of more than 1.5/1 A/mm, horizontal and vertical MOSFETs have achieved breakdown voltages of 1.8/1 kV at cutoff, and GaO HF devices have achieved ft/fmax = 5.1/17.1 GHz.

Ga 2 O 3 Substrate Manufacturing Costs by Step (Image source: Semiconductor Industry Insight)

Applications of Si, SiC, GaN and GaO power electronics in terms of current and voltage requirements

GaO vs. SiC Cost Comparison (EE POWER)

In summary, GaO is an emerging power semiconductor material with a larger band gap than silicon, GaN and SiC, but more R&D and advancement work is needed before it can become a major player in power electronics.

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