Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) succeeded in transferring the ‘Ion Implantation and its Evaluation Technology for the SiC (silicon carbide) Power Semiconductor’ to a Hungarian company.

Power semiconductors are key components in electricity and electronics, acting as the muscles of the human body by regulating the direction of current and controlling power conversion. There are many different materials for power semiconductors. Among them, SiC is receiving the most attention due to its excellent material properties, including high durability and excellent power efficiency. When SiC power semiconductors are incorporated into electric vehicles, they cut down the power consumption of the battery and reduce the body weight and volume of the vehicle, resulting in energy efficiency improvements of up to 10%

While SiC power semiconductors have many advantages, the manufacturing process is also very challenging. Previously, a method was applied to create a device by forming an epi layer (single-crystal semiconductor thin-film) on a highly conductive wafer and flowing current through that area. However, during this process, the surface of the epi layer becomes rough and the speed of electron transfer decreases. The price of the epi wafer itself is also high, which is a major obstacle to mass production.

To solve this problem, KERI used a method of implanting ions into a semi-insulated SiC wafer without an epi layer. Ion implantation, which makes a wafer conductive, is the work that breathes life into a semiconductor.

SiC materials are hard and require very high energy ion implantation followed by high temperature heat treatment to activate the ions, making it a difficult technology to implement. However, KERI has succeeded in securing the relevant technologies based on its 10 years of experience in operating ion implantation equipment dedicated to SiC.

“Ion implantation technology can significantly reduce process costs by increasing current flow in semiconductor devices and replacing expensive epi wafers,” said Dr. Kim, Hyoung Woo, Director, Advanced Semiconductor Research Center, KERI. He continued, “This is a technology that increases the price competitiveness of high-performance SiC power semiconductors and contributes greatly to mass production.”

This technology was recently transferred to ‘SEMILAB ZRT (CEO: Tibor Pavelka)’, a semiconductor metrology equipment company located in Budapest, Hungary. With a 30-year history, SEMILAB has manufacturing plants in Hungary and the United States. SEMILAB owns patents for medium-sized precision measurement equipment and material characterization equipment, and has the world’s leading technology in semiconductor electrical parameter evaluation system.

They predict that through this technology transfer, they will be able to standardize high-quality SiC. SEMILAB plans to use KERI technology to develop specialized equipment to evaluate the ion implantation process of SiC power semiconductor.

Park Su-yong, the president of SEMILAB Korea, said, “Through the development of specialized equipment, we will be able to progress in-line monitoring of implant processes on SiC wafers for immediate, accurate, and low-cost production control of implant systems and in-line monitoring for pre-anneal implant.” He added, “This will be a great foundation for stably securing a high-quality ion implantation mass production process with excellent uniformity and reproducibility.”

KERI is a government-funded research institute under the NST (National Research Council of Science & Technology) of the Ministry of Science and ICT. It has a total of more than 120 intellectual property rights in the field of power semiconductor research. As of the last 10 years, power semiconductor division of KERI has achieved more than KRW 3 billion in technology transfers, the highest level in South Korea.

Original – KERI