GreenDiamond Project : Electronics with Diamond Power Devices

The key to the efficient transmission and conversion of low-carbon electrical energy is the improvement of power electronic devices. Diamond is considered to be the ultimate wide bandgap semiconductor material for applications in high power electronics due to its exceptional thermal and electronic properties.

Two recent developments – the emergence of commercially available electronic grade single crystals and a scientific breakthrough in creating a MOS channel in diamond technology, have now opened new opportunities for the fabrication and commercialisation of diamond power transistors. These will result in substantial improvements in the performance of power electronic systems by offering higher blocking voltages, improved efficiency and reliability, as well as reduced thermal requirements thus opening the door to more efficient green electronic systems.

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Year One: Review by Etienne Gheeraert

Project Coordinator Etienne Gheeraert has reviewed the achievements of the GreenDiamond consortium as the project progresses onwards. Continue reading to find out more!

After one year of work, the design tool for the diamond transistor is operational. It is the first ever design tool dedicated entirely to diamond electronic devices. Models will be continuously improved throughout the project, taking into account experimental data. Results are however already very good and accurate enough to design the first transistors for fabrication.

On the fabrication front, the best source of diamond plates for device fabrication has been identified. The main criteria were the crystallographic quality assessed mainly by X-ray topography at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility with exceptional sensitivity. This source expects to deliver 2-inch high quality diamond plates in the future. The GreenDiamond project is starting with a reduced size, whilst keeping upscaling in mind.

In parallel, new surface treatments ahead of active layer growth have been identified, leading to low roughness and high crystallographic quality. Technology modules are still being studied, such as growth and epitaxy. The next steps will include the fabrication of the first transistors based on all of the above developments.

On the packaging side, key materials have been identified to allow high temperature and reliability. The test set-up has been upgraded to be able to measure the soon-produced diamond transistors’ exceptional properties in voltage, current and switching time.