AlN semiconductor is still in its infancy, what is the application prospect

AlN semiconductor is still in its infancy, what is the application prospect

2021-11-15 16:29:12 29

[Introduction] AlN materials have a high direct band gap (6.2eV) and are important blue and UV light-emitting materials; AlN has a small dielectric constant, good thermal conductivity, high resistivity and breakdown field strength.


According to the introduction of the early time division, semiconductor materials have now been divided into the third generation.


The first generation started from the invention of integrated circuit, the first transistor was germanium material, and later developed into silicon material. The second generation semiconductor materials are gallium arsenide, which was introduced in the 1980s and 1990s, and indium phosphide, which has been used in the industry since 1990.


After 2000, mainly the third generation semiconductor materials, mainly gallium nitride and silicon carbide. 2005 onwards, super wide band semiconductor began to appear, the horizontal axis is the material introduction time, the vertical axis is the material forbidden band width, the forbidden band width of more than 4eV material is called super wide band, including the current typical gallium oxide, diamond and aluminum nitride.


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Aluminum nitride semiconductor materials and applications


AlN materials have a high direct band gap (6.2eV) and are important blue and UV light-emitting materials; AlN has a small dielectric constant, good thermal conductivity, high resistivity and breakdown field strength.

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1、Main application direction


(1) AlN as an important blue and ultraviolet light-emitting materials, used in ultraviolet / deep ultraviolet light-emitting diodes, ultraviolet laser diodes and ultraviolet detectors, etc.. In addition, AlN can be and III nitride such as GaN and InN to form a continuous solid solution, its ternary or quaternary alloy can achieve its band gap from the visible band to the deep ultraviolet band continuously adjustable, making it an important high-performance light-emitting materials.

(3) AlN crystals as AlGaN epitaxial material substrate with high aluminum (Al) component can also effectively reduce the defect density in the nitride epitaxial layer and greatly improve the performance and lifetime of nitride semiconductor devices. AlGaN-based high-quality day-blind detector has been successfully applied.


(4) AlN has high nonlinear optical coefficient and can be applied to second harmonic emitters.


2、Research hotspots

Around its broad application direction, the international research hotspots of AlN mainly include the following aspects:

(1) AlN epitaxy and preparation technology.

(2) AlN-based device substrate technology.

(3) AlN contact and doping layer technology.

(4) AlN functional layer properties for deep ultraviolet (DUV) electronic device applications.

(5) AlN deep ultraviolet LED and sensor technologies.

(6) AlN deep-ultraviolet lasers and their applications.

(7) Electronic device technologies (HEMT, power devices and high frequency devices) using AlN materials.

(8) New applications of AlN materials (piezoelectric devices, terahertz devices, high-temperature electronic devices, etc.).


More advanced than silicon carbide?

In general, it is not very meaningful to compare aluminum nitride and silicon carbide together. First of all, we should know that the "generation" of semiconductors is not a substitute relationship, but a simultaneous relationship, each application range is different. For example, CPU chips, may always use the first generation of semiconductor materials. The so-called first generation, the second generation, the third generation of semiconductors, are referred to the semiconductor materials, respectively, applied to different products and scenarios. The current most widely used in high-voltage, high-power RF equipment semiconductor material is still silicon carbide.

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Although aluminum nitride as an ultra-wide band semiconductor material is superior to silicon carbide in certain areas such as ultra-high voltage power electronics, RF electron emitters, deep ultraviolet photodetectors, quantum communications and extreme environmental applications, it is only the application areas that are different, and it is difficult to say that it is the relationship between replacement and substitution.


AlN single crystal preparation methods


The preparation methods of AlN single crystals mainly include molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), hydride vapor phase epitaxy (HVPE), metal organic compound vapor deposition (MOCVD), and physical vapor phase transport (PVT) methods. Among them, HVPE, MOCVD and MBE methods are mostly used to prepare thin films. HVPE has a fast growth rate (100 μm/h), which is almost 100 times that of MOCVD and MBE methods, and is suitable for making thicker AlN films.


Applications of AlN in Devices

AlN is mainly used in microwave millimeter wave devices, SAW devices, UV/deep UV LEDs, and power electronics devices. Among them, the output power of AlN UV LEDs has reached the practical demand, UV/deep UV detectors are still in the development stage, and HEMTs and SAW/body acoustic wave (BAW) piezoelectric devices for medium power gigahertz level communication are entering the practical stage. In addition, AlN high-power power electronics devices are entering a period of rapid development, and new AlN devices such as MEMS devices, terahertz devices, and high-temperature devices are under continuous exploration and development.


Reference sources.

[1] Jun He et al. Status and development trend of ultra wide band AlN materials and their device applications

[2] Junan Li et al. Opportunities and challenges of ultra-wide band-barrier semiconductor materials

[3] Hao, Yue. New advances in wide-band and ultra-wide-band semiconductor devices

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