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5.1 Introduction

5.1 Introduction

Silicon carbide (SiC)-based semiconductor electronic devices and circuits are presently being developed
for use in high-temperature, high-power, and high-radiation conditions under which conventional semiconductors
cannot adequately perform. Silicon carbide’s ability to function under such extreme conditions
is expected to enable significant improvements to a far-ranging variety of applications and systems.
These range from greatly improved high-voltage switching for energy savings in public electric power
distribution and electric motor drives to more powerful microwave electronics for radar and communications
to sensors and controls for cleaner-burning more fuel-efficient jet aircraft and automobile
engines. In the particular area of power devices, theoretical appraisals have indicated that SiC
power MOSFET’s and diode rectifiers would operate over higher voltage and temperature ranges, have
superior switching characteristics, and yet have die sizes nearly 20 times smaller than correspondingly
rated silicon-based devices. However, these tremendous theoretical advantages have yet to be widely
realized in commercially available SiC devices, primarily owing to the fact that SiC’s relatively immature
crystal growth and device fabrication technologies are not yet sufficiently developed to the degree required
for reliable incorporation into most electronic systems.
This chapter briefly surveys the SiC semiconductor electronics technology. In particular, the differences
(both good and bad) between SiC electronics technology and the well-known silicon VLSI technology
are highlighted. Projected performance benefits of SiC electronics are highlighted for several large-scale
applications. Key crystal growth and device-fabrication issues that presently limit the performance and
capability of high-temperature and high-power SiC electronics are identified.