Silicon (Si) devices are popular, but costly. In coming decades, materials such as silicon carbide (SiC), aluminium nitride (AlN) and gallium nitride (GaN) will be used more in commercial products such as MEMS, LEDs and power transistors. With further research and development, these materials will improve energy efficiency and enable higher performance in smaller and lighter final-packaged products. To manufacture these products at a low, commercially viable cost, however, utilisation of mature silicon wafer processing and large silicon wafers is required. The use of epitaxially grown SiC on Si can better enable product fabrication on standard silicon wafers. To enable the use of SiC on Si in mass production, suitable SiC deposition equipment must be available.
Based on Griffith University-developed technology, we have joined with SPTS Technologies, a global semiconductor equipment manufacturing company, to develop such a production reactor. One has already been installed at Queensland Microtechnology Facility at the Centre, which can process 2” to 300mm-diameter wafers. Testing and evolution of the system is ongoing so required attributes of a production system and processes can be developed, ready for mass production.
The development of a range application-specific epitaxial SiC on Si deposition processes will be needed. SiC on Si could be used for a range of new devices such as MEMS devices for high-temperature and harsh-environment pressure sensors. These pressure sensors, which can monitor operations internal combustion engine in cars and via the engine management system, aid further energy efficiency. SiC on Si wafers will enable enhanced use of GaN in products for applications such as LEDs used for general lighting and power transistors for motor control. SiC on Si can also be used in conjunction with graphene to further enhance sensor technology.