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Home > Knowledge > 5.Silicon Carbide Technology > 5.4.1 Historical Lack of SiC Wafers
5.4.1 Historical Lack of SiC Wafers
5.4 SiC Semiconductor Crystal Growth
 
5.4.1 Historical Lack of SiC Wafers
 
Reproducible wafers of reasonable consistency, size, quality, and availability are a prerequisite for
commercial mass production of semiconductor electronics. Many semiconductor materials can be melted
and reproducibly recrystallized into large single crystals with the aid of a seed crystal, such as in the
Czochralski method employed in the manufacture of almost all silicon wafers, enabling reasonably large
wafers to be mass produced. However, because SiC sublimes instead of melting at reasonably attainable
pressures, SiC cannot be grown by conventional melt-growth techniques. Prior to 1980, experimental
SiC electronic devices were confined to small (typically ~1 ), irregularly shaped SiC crystal platelets
grown as a byproduct of the Acheson process for manufacturing industrial abrasives (e.g., sandpaper) 
or by the Lely process . In the Lely process, SiC sublimed from polycrystalline SiC powder at
temperatures near 2500°C are randomly condensed on the walls of a cavity forming small, hexagonally
shaped platelets. While these small, nonreproducible crystals permitted some basic SiC electronics
research, they were clearly not suitable for semiconductor mass production. As such, silicon became the
dominant semiconductor fueling the solid-state technology revolution, while interest in SiC-based microelectronics
was limited.