Silicon Carbide is used as substrate for GaN-epitaxy to produce LEDs in the blue/UV range of the spectrum. SiC is the material of choice because it offers low lattice mismatch for III-nitride epitaxial layers and high thermal conductivity (important for lasers).
Blue LEDs on SiC-basis have been commercially available for several years now. The next important step will be the development of blue SiC-laser-diodes, which can be used to increase data storage capacity among many other applications. The use of SiC-based UV- diodes may also find various applications, i.e. monitoring of combustion processes, all sorts of UV-detection while detector is almost solar-blind.
Electronics based on SiC shows advantages compared to Si-devices, where environmental conditions are adverse, i.e. ionizing radiation, heat-aggressive chemicals. For instance, SiC-based electronics would help to reduce weight and therefore costs of spacecraft, since SiC-devices showed to be much more resistant to ionizing radiation than Si-devices. Thus, a reduction of radiation-shielding is possible. Further, they may reduce or eliminate the use of cooling systems that have to be implemented as soon as Si-electronics is used.
- SiC-devices withstand higher temperatures.
Application and Benefits of Devices Processed on SiC
Because of its outstanding material properties, SiC-based electronics and devices can work in very hostile environment, where operation of conventional silicon-based electronics is not possible anymore. Silicon carbide's ability to work under high temperature, high power and high radiation conditions enable large enhancements of device-performance in a wide variety of applications.
Typical areas that already take or will take profit from SiC-devices are:
- low lattice mismatch for III-nitride epitaxial layers
- high thermal conductivity (important for lasers)
- monitoring of combustion processes
- all sorts of UV-detection while detector is almost solar blind