Researchers working on the EU-funded Robuspic project say they have developed accurate behavioural models that will help semiconductor companies design more efficient power transistors.
According to the research team, the industry has been ham-strung by an inability to model DMOS (double-diffused metal oxide semiconductor) and LIGBT (lateral-insulated gate bipolar transistor) devices under different conditions, such as temperature, high voltage and fast switching. This has led semiconductor manufacturers to over-compensate in their designs, potentially resulting in unnecessary cost, material waste and superfluous energy consumption.
"Design and fabrication of highly reliable and efficient smart-power circuits is one of the most important strategic ways to reduce drastically energy losses in power systems by ensuring optimal energy conversion at all times," said Edgard Laes, coordinator of the Robuspic project team. "This is in line with major European policies for use of clean energies, reducing pollution and generally building a friendly environment."
DMOS and LIGBT were targeted because they are seen as essential to the development of smart-power integrated circuits, which are increasingly being used to minimise energy consumption in the consumer, industrial and automotive markets. It's envisioned that the models will allow manufacturers to better simulate power transistor reliability, helping to extend the working lifetime and reliability of these circuits.
The Robuspic project received 2.6 million in funding from the EU's Sixth Framework Programme, whilst participating companies contributed 2.23 million. Among those taking part were AMI Semiconductor, Bosch, Cambridge Semiconductor, Cadence Design System, the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and the University of Cambridge.