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SiC Applications in High Temperature Device

One of the most beneficial advantages that SiC-based electronics offer are in the areas of high-temperature operation. The specific SiC device physics that enables high-temperature capabilities will be examined first, secondary revolutionary system-level performance improves these enhanced capabilities.

The wide bandgap energy and low intrinsic carrier concentration of SiC allow SiC to maintain semiconductor behavior at much higher temperatures than silicon, which in turn permits SiC semiconductor device functionality at much higher temperatures than silicon Semiconductor electronic devices function in the temperature range where intrinsic carriers are negligible so that conductivity is controlled by intentionally introduced dopant impurities. Furthermore, the intrinsic carrier concentration n1 is a fundamental prefactor to well-known equations governing undesired junction reverse-bias leakage currents. As temperature increases, intrinsic carriers increase exponentially so that undesired leakage currents grow unacceptably large, and eventually at still higher temperatures, the semiconductor device operation is overcome by uncontrolled conductivity as intrinsic carriers exceed intentional device dopings. Depending upon specific device design, the intrinsic carrier concentration of silicon generally confines silicon device operation to junction temperatures <300°C. SiC’s much smaller intrinsic carrier concentration theoretically permits device operation at junction temperatures exceeding800°C.600°CSiC device operation has been experimentally demonstrated on a variety of SiC devices.The ability to place uncooled high-temperature semiconductor electronics directly into hot environments would enable important benefits to automotive, aerospace, and deep-well drilling industries. In the case of automotive and aerospace engines, improved electronic telemetry and control from high-temperature engine regions are necessary to more precisely control the combustion process to improve fuel efficiency while reducing polluting emissions. High-temperature capability eliminates performance, reliability, and weight penalties associated with liquid cooling, fans, thermal shielding, and longer wire runs needed to realize similar functionality in engines using conventional silicon semiconductor electronics.

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