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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K024345/1
Title: Novel High Thermal Conductivity Substrates for GaN Electronics: Thermal Innovation
Principal Investigator: Kuball, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Cherns, Professor D
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
IQE PLC NXP Semiconductors UK Limited Plessey Semiconductors Ltd
Department: Physics
Organisation: University of Bristol
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 08 July 2013 Ends: 31 October 2016 Value (£): 393,218
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Electronic Devices & Subsys. RF & Microwave Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
27 Feb 2013 EPSRC ICT Responsive Mode - Feb 2013 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
AlGaN/GaN high electron mobility transistors (HEMT) are a key enabling technology for future power conditioning applications in the low carbon economy, and for high efficiency military and civilian, microwave and RF systems. Although the performance of AlGaN/GaN HEMTs presently reaches RF powers up to 40W/mm, at frequencies exceeding 300 GHz, their long-term reliability, often thermally limited, is still a serious issue, in the UK & Europe, but also in the USA & Japan. Corresponding challenges exist for power conditioning applications. To mitigate the present thermal device challenges, the aim of this proposal is innovation and step change in thermal management of AlGaN/GaN HEMT devices by developing novel substrates, in particular (1) high value substrates that have higher heat extraction capability than high cost SiC substrates commonly used for GaN RF applications, and (2) low cost substrates that have improved heat extraction capability to GaN-on-Si substrates for more cost sensitive power electronics markets. The resulting step-change in improvement in heat spreading will improve reliability, circuit efficiency and ease system constraints of GaN electronics. To enable the optimization of the thermal substrate properties key enabling new thermal analysis technologies will be developed. The UK has roadmaps for employing RF and microwave GaN electronics in defence as well as satellite communication. The key UK industrial players in this field include Selex, MBDA, Astrium & others, all requiring reliable and efficient GaN RF and microwave electronics, which the proposed work will advance and enable via the new heat extracting substrate technologies and improved methods of thermal characterisation, furthermore with opportunities for IQE UK, supporter of this proposal, of being a key component in the supply chain for RF GaN applications. The corresponding roadmap for power electronics requires cost-effective GaN presently on Si substrates power devices with UK based manufacture at NXP, supporter of this project, and International Rectifier (IR) which the outcome of this proposed work can innovate. Further business opportunities will emerge with the substrate development itself, such as via Element-6, at IQE through the developments of III-Nitride epitaxial growth for best heat extraction, or spin-out companies. Dissemination of results and insights from this project will be via publications in internationally leading journals, via conferences, via the UK Nitrides Consortium, i.e., established dissemination routes will be used to transfer knowledge into academia, and directly with the industrial supporters of this project, as well as other companies Bristol and Bath have links to (e.g. Selex, MBDA). The CDTR in Bristol and the III-Nitride group in Bath have both a strong track record in being successful using these dissemination routes, in particular with companies. The field of thermal management of semiconductor devices is an important academic research field, and is especially topical and useful at the current stage of implementation of this genuinely disruptive technology. It not only trains UK workforce for industry, but also it is essential to help maintain the present high level of device physics and engineering in the UK. It provides stimulus for an efficient interaction between universities and industry to maximize benefit of EPSRC research investment. This includes in this project interaction with UK industry, in particular, IQE, NXP, and Plessey in this project.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.bris.ac.uk