Monday, June 24, 2024

Turning Up The Heat On Next-Generation Semiconductors

- Advertisement -

MIT researchers have adopted gallium nitride for applications like Venus exploration due to its resilience in temperatures over 500 degrees Celsius.

Researchers studied how temperatures up to 500 degrees Celsius would affect electronic devices made from gallium nitride, a key step in their multiyear research effort to develop electronics that can operate in extremely hot environments, like the surface of Venus.
Credits:Image: MIT News; iStock
Researchers studied how temperatures up to 500 degrees Celsius would affect electronic devices made from gallium nitride, a key step in their multiyear research effort to develop electronics that can operate in extremely hot environments, like the surface of Venus. Credits:Image: MIT News; iStock

Venus’s surface temperatures reach 480 degrees Celsius—hot enough to melt lead—making it too hostile for humans and conventional machines. This has prevented scientists from deploying rovers, as silicon-based electronics fail under extreme conditions. 

Researchers from MIT have recently adopted gallium nitride for high-temperature applications, such as exploring Venus, due to its ability to withstand temperatures exceeding 500 degrees Celsius.  While gallium nitride is already employed in earth-based electronics, such as phone chargers and cell phone towers, there is still limited understanding of how this material performs beyond 300 degrees, the maximum operational threshold for traditional silicon electronics.

- Advertisement -

Turning up the heat

The researchers utilized MIT.nano facilities to construct gallium nitride devices known as transfer length method structures, consisting of a series of resistors to measure material and contact resistance. They applied ohmic contacts using two common techniques: one involving metal deposition on gallium nitride followed by annealing at 825 degrees Celsius for 30 seconds, and a team at Ohio State, which removes portions of gallium nitride to replace with highly doped gallium nitride that facilitates enhanced current conduction.

A comprehensive approach

In their research, devices underwent two testing methods: short-term at Rice University using a hot chuck at 500 degrees Celsius for immediate resistance measurements, and long-term at MIT with a specialized furnace assessing resistance changes over 72 hours. Advanced microscopy at MIT.nano and the Technology Innovation Institute further analyzed the effects of high temperatures on gallium nitride and ohmic contacts at the atomic level.

Findings indicated that contact resistance remained stable at 500 degrees for 48 hours, and performance improved with the regrowth process. However, material degradation began after 48 hours in the furnace. Efforts to enhance long-term durability, such as adding protective insulators, are ongoing. These insights are crucial for developing high-temperature gallium nitride transistors.

Nidhi Agarwal
Nidhi Agarwal
Nidhi Agarwal is a journalist at EFY. She is an Electronics and Communication Engineer with over five years of academic experience. Her expertise lies in working with development boards and IoT cloud. She enjoys writing as it enables her to share her knowledge and insights related to electronics, with like-minded techies.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS & COMMENTS

Unique DIY Projects

Electronics News

Truly Innovative Tech

MOst Popular Videos

Electronics Components

Calculators

×