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The Need for ITRW

The Need for ITRW

Riding the waves of wide bandgap semiconductors

Research and development activities in wide bandgap (WBG) devices have grown fast to the extent that high-quality production devices are entering the commercial market. The increasing interest and activities in WBG devices arise from three facts:

The attempt to drive towards a viable 7-nm process, which reaches the physical limitation of ten Si atoms, has been delayed due to the complex procedures and requirement for expensive fabrication equipment. In addition, ever-increasing power density and heat dissipation requirements pose significant obstacles to commercializing a 7-nm process. These and other reasons are why Intel, the leading giant in Si devices for high-density processors, publicly announced that they hold conservative opinions on the mass production of 7-nm Si devices in the future1. WBG semiconductors are one of the steps forward in the seemingly darkest age of Si devices since the establishment of Moore’s law. WBG materials have superior advantages for many applications, especially power electronics, including higher mobility, electron density, breakdown voltage, and heat conductivity. Moreover, under similar working principles, many of the standard Si-based processes can adapt for WBG, which reduces investment costs and shorten development cycles.

With the advantages mentioned above, WBG devices are highly suitable for harsh working conditions such as high voltage, temperature, frequency, and radiation exposure, which extend their application to extreme environments from outer space to the deep sea. For example, applications now using WBG devices include spacecraft, aircraft, high-speed trains, ocean oil drilling platforms, electric vehicles (EVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), and intelligent manufacturing. The working voltage in these applications can reach as high as 10 kV, and the heat flux reaches far beyond the realm of Si devices and exceeds 1*107 W/m2. Furthermore, with the new concept the Internet of Things (IoT), many application areas are developing quickly, including smart cities and big data, new sensors, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), smart-power systems, and 5G communication networks. Those application areas require new technologies such as power electronics, RF devices, and solid-state lighting. WBG devices are the main component and considered the driving force for next-generation electronic industries.

Due to global economic growth, there is an increase in consumption of fosisl fuels and excessive CO2 emissions. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report, only 50% of the generated energy will reach the end-load. Green energy, EVs, HEVs, and high-efficiency power modules are potentially dominant solutions to save energy, and WBG devices will play an indispensable role each one. When the total CO2 emissions decreases by 40%, WBG devices will play an even more significant role in enhancing the world economy and environment.

In short, WBG devices have the potential to be the most influential devices for the future of both microelectronics and power electronics while becoming one of the major engines of driving the world economy over the next several decades. While recognizing current trends and facts, there are requirements from industry, academia, education, and public authorities to have a reliable and comprehensive view of the strategic research agenda and a technology roadmap for WBG semiconductor devices. These are the main motivations in establishing the International Roadmap for Wide Bandgap Power Semiconductors (ITRW). The ITRW working group provides insightful strategic research, a roadmap on a biennial basis, and professional reference and guidelines to industry, academia, education, and public authorities.

Working Groups

The ITRW working groups carry out various technical analyses. The working groups will meet regularly and report back to the steering committee at the executive meetings held during large conferences in the power electronics field. The initial subgroups in the technical committees are:

  • Materials and Devices
  • Packaging and Integration
  • System Integration and Application (SiC)
  • System Integration and Application (GaN)

The working group scope includes the following:

While acknowledging Moore’s law, the ITRW will be an engine of the virtuous cycle (e.g., with powerdensity scaling, improved performance, improving cost ratio, and market andeconomy). The growth of the market will, in turn, benefit from new technology investment and development. Therefore, the ITRW will provide solid supporting evidence for technical feasibility and the underpinning economic validity of this ecosystem.
The ITRW also has a strong perspective effect: it will provide research guidance, landscape analysis, and applications forecasting for the actors in the semiconductor ecosystem. Therefore, it will significantly contribute to technology exploration and increase resource efficiency in the fast technological development of the industry.

Learn More
helpful info ctas 1

IEEE ITRW: Everything You Need To Know

helpful info ctas 2

The International Technology Roadmap for Wide Bandgap Power Semiconductors (ITRW): IEEE PELS