Gallium oxide (Ga 2 O 3 ) is emerging as a viable candidate for certain classes of power electronics with capabilities beyond existing technologies due to its large bandgap, controllable doping, and the availability of large diameter, relatively inexpensive substrates. These applications include power conditioning systems, including pulsed power for avionics and electric ships, solid-state drivers for heavy electric motors, and advanced power management and control electronics. Wide bandgap (WBG) power devices offer potential savings in both energy and cost. However, converters powered by WBG devices require innovation at all levels, entailing changes to system design, circuit architecture, qualification metrics, and even market models. The performance of high voltage rectifiers and enhancement-mode metal-oxide field effect transistors benefits from the larger critical electric field of β-Ga 2 O 3 relative to either SiC or GaN. Reverse breakdown voltages of over 2 kV for β-Ga 2 O 3 have been reported, either with or without edge termination and over 3 kV for a lateral field-plated Ga 2 O 3 Schottky diode on sapphire. The metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors fabricated on Ga 2 O 3 to date have predominantly been depletion (d-mode) devices, with a few demonstrations of enhancement (e-mode) operation. While these results are promising, what are the limitations of this technology and what needs to occur for it to play a role alongside the more mature SiC and GaN power device technologies? The low thermal conductivity might be mitigated by transferring devices to another substrate or thinning down the substrate and using a heatsink as well as top-side heat extraction. We give a perspective on the materials' properties and physics of transport, thermal conduction, doping capabilities, and device design that summarizes the current limitations and future areas of development. A key requirement is continued interest from military electronics development agencies. The history of the power electronics device field has shown that new technologies appear roughly every 10-12 years, with a cycle of performance evolution and optimization. The older technologies, however, survive long into the marketplace, for various reasons. Ga 2 O 3 may supplement SiC and GaN, but is not expected to replace them.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)