PerspectiveMaterials Science

Silicon Carbide as a Platform for Power Electronics

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Science  12 Jun 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5933, pp. 1398-1400
DOI: 10.1126/science.1168704

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For high-voltage, high-current devices that can be operated at elevated temperatures, silicon carbide (SiC) has been the material of choice. Efforts to produce single-crystal SiC began 30 years ago, but intrinsic problems in growing high-quality single-crystal boules free of micropipe defects—micrometer-scale pinholes created by dislocations—have only recently been overcome. A series of developments in crystal growth have made large-area, high-quality SiC substrates readily available for applications such as high-frequency transmitters and solid-state white lighting. Additional reductions in defects in the active region of devices have been achieved through epitaxial approaches, in which single-crystal layers are grown on the substrate. SiC is now poised as the linchpin to “green energy” that will replace less energy-efficient switches now based on silicon technology.