PI: Nick Strandwitz
University: Lehigh University
Power electronics are ubiquitous in modern electronics and are used for switching large voltages as well as conversion from AC to DC power. The prototypical "power brick" attached to laptops is one of the more obvious manifestations of power electronics, that, if improved upon, could be embedded directly in the device or into the wall plug. There is also significant room to improve the efficiency in power electronics and to decrease the characteristic size of power electronic devices.
In mid-2017, the Strandwitz group was approached by members of the start-up company iDEALSemi (located in Lehigh Valley) to discuss possible collaborations. The iDEALSemi team's patented technology relies on a physical phenomenon in which the Strandwitz group has a large amount of expertise: fixed negative charge at aluminum oxide-silicon interfaces. The overall purpose of our collaboration is to specifically:
  1. develop techniques to maximize fixed negative charge at aluminum oxide-silicon interfaces.
  2. understand the time- and thermal-stability of the fixed negative charge
  3. understand the effect of heat with applied bias (voltage stress)
iDEALSemi's technology relies upon this fixed negative charge, so understanding the charge and how to manipulate it is of utmost importance to their success. Broadly, thin films of aluminum oxide will be grown on silicon wafers in the Strandwitz group using atomic layer deposition (ALD), and the fixed charge will be quantified using electronic testing. Also, test structures fabricated by iDEALSemi will be given to Lehigh researchers for aluminum oxide film growth and characterization.