SMARTCymru Project Awarded to the Compound Semiconductor Centre for Vertical Gallium Nitride Device Development 

The Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC) is pleased to announce 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 Gallium Nitride device manufacturing capability within the UK.

Industry analysts forecast that the GaN power market will grow at up to 55% per annum over the next five years, driven by power supply segment, or 93% 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 Gallium Nitride is desirable.

The project will leverage 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. Our 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 defense and space applications as well as broader high temperature, harsh environment opportunities.

* Figures sourced from Yole Développement estimates (Jan 2019)

About the Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC)

The Compound Semiconductor Centre was founded in 2015 as a Joint Venture between Cardiff University and IQE Plc, 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 vital milestone towards developing a World-class Compound Semiconductor cluster in South Wales.