CSC wins funding for vertical GaN study

Cardiff’s Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC) has announced the award of Welsh Government project support through the SMARTCymru (SMART Wales) scheme via the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This funding will support a technical and commercial feasibility study for CSC’s ‘VeGaN’ project to develop a Vertical GaN device manufacturing capability within the UK.

Industry analysts at Yole Developpment forecast that the GaN power market will grow at up to 55 percent per annum over the next five years, driven by power supply segment, or 93 percent if adopted for wireless charging in consumer electronics*, and so there is an excellent opportunity for innovative epitaxial products to unlock this growth potential.

The 2018 roadmap report from the UK Automotive Council and Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) identifies Vertical GaN as a more suitable technology for lower voltage, lower power automotive applications. These include On Board Charging (OBC), DC-DC conversion and additional applications where the higher switching speed of GaN is desirable.

The project will use advanced epitaxial growth methods developed by CSC and the device manufacturing expertise of its Compound Semiconductor Cluster partners to develop a voltage – scalable process (200V – 1200V) where the electric field is supported vertically across a GaN drift layer.

Power transistors using Si and SiC in vertical process architectures such as trench FET and IGBT offer improved performance and power density compared to lateral devices, the same benefits would also apply to GaN. The project will develop enhancement mode (normally off) GaN trench FET devices built on thick, low-defect epitaxial GaN layers.

This is a cross cutting technology which addresses emerging automotive markets, ITAR-free defence and space applications as well as broader high temperature, harsh environment opportunities.

The Compound Semiconductor Centre was founded in 2015 as a Joint Venture between Cardiff University and IQE, with the mission of accelerating commercialisation of Compound Semiconductor Materials and Device Research, and realising a tangible economic return on the UK investment in this key area of enabling technology. Based in Cardiff, the Centre is a milestone towards developing a World-class Compound Semiconductor cluster in South Wales.