Power electronics, machines and drives (PEMD) supply chains play a critical role in the global decarbonisation effort and in achieving Net Zero targets. PEMD applications require robust devices that can operate at high voltages, temperatures and frequencies, as well as the ability to handle high current densities. Wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductor materials are ideally suited for such applications and allow for an increase in system efficiencies and reduction in weight and volume.

Compound semiconductor (CS) materials silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride on silicon carbide (GaN-on-SiC) are frontrunners in the field of high-power devices and identified as optimal WBG materials for trench-based vertical devices to increase device performance.

Rob Harper, Programme Manager Power and RF at the Compound Semiconductor Centre said, “Whilst the UK has strong industrial expertise in PEMD systems development, there has been a lack of a coordinated PEMD supply chain in the UK until now, with high-volume supply of vertical SiC transistors being identified as an opportunity gap, particularly for the growing electric vehicle (EV) industry”.

SOCRATES is a 9-month project that is part funded by the Catalysing Green Innovation challenge, via UK Research and Innovation and aims to address these opportunities in the UK PEMD supply chain. The consortium led by SPTS Technologies, a KLA company, also includes Newport Wafer Fab, Swansea University, Compound Semiconductor Centre and CSconnected and will deliver industrial processes for SiC and GaN-on-SiC trench etching, as well as in-line fabrication processes for integration of the etch into high-volume manufacturing.

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