LONDON Ė The Neuland project, part funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), has been set up to explore the efficient use of electricity from renewable sources based on exotic semiconductor materials.
The project, led by Infineon Technologies AG, will run until mid-2013 and receive 2.47 million euro (about $3.3 million) from the BMBF, or about 52.6 percent of the total budget of 4.7 million euro (about $6.25 million). The project brings six companies with expertise in silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN). Aixtron is a provider of equipment for the semiconductor industry, and the SiCrystal and Azzurro are present as wafer manufacturers. The semiconductor device know-how will be supplied by MicroGaN and Infineon, and the experience in systems engineering for photovoltaic applications will come from SMA Solar Technology.
The project aims to reduce the losses in photovoltaic inverters, by as much as 50 percent, by developing semiconductor devices based on SiC and gallium nitride on silicon (GaN-on-Si).
The same devices are also expected to be suitable for use in the future in switched-mode power supplies for desktop and laptop PCs, for flat-screen TVs, servers and telecommunication systems with a view to likewise reducing energy losses in these applications by about half.
Silicon carbide is used in components such as Schottky diodes. The Neuland research is expected to reveal applications for which GaN devices live up to or outperform present SiC devices in terms of reliability, ease of use and cost.