Are diamond semiconductors forever?
Diamond could be the newest power semiconductor material, surpassing both Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN).
Diamond has excellent properties for high-voltage operations, high-temperature applications and high-frequency switching.
Compared to Silicon (Si), the material semiconductors are currently made from, diamond has a critical electric field 30 times higher. It also has a critical electric field 3 times higher than SiC, a more recent competitor.
The carrier mobility is also very high for both carrier types, and it has superior thermal conductivity.
However, these synthetic diamond wide band gap semiconductors are still a way off mass production.
What is a wide band gap semiconductor?
The band gap of semiconductors is the energy difference between two bands in the semiconductor: the valence band and the conduction band. Because of the extra distance between the bands, these semiconductors can operate in more extreme conditions. The devices are better equipped for higher voltages, higher temperatures, and higher frequency conditions. They can also be referred to as power semiconductors.
GaN and SiC are some of the more recent materials considered for mass-produced power semiconductor devices. Each material, including diamond, has its own merits.
The advantages of wide band gap semiconductors
Diamfab, a “spin-off” of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), is researching into the potential of diamond semiconductors. The project was founded in 2016, with the start-up being incorporated in 2019. Despite the recent incorporation, they have 30 years of research from the CRNS wide band gap semiconductor team behind them.
The company believes it can design a diamond die 30% less expensive than a SiC die with a smaller surface area, the same electrical performance and efficiency, and better thermal management. Diamond could also decrease energy loss, and can be used as both an insulator and a conductor.
Like SiC and GaN, Diamfab hopes to use diamond wide band gap semiconductors in the electric vehicles (EV) industry. The power density, small size and cost are all advantages of wide band gap semiconductors over their alternatives in cars. And since diamond already shows heaps of potential, there are high hopes for its usage in the future.
Diamonds may be a girl’s – or an EV manufacturer’s – best friend. But when you’re looking for electronic components, Cyclops is your best friend. We have more than 280,000 lines of stock ready to deliver, and many more that we can source rapidly and at competitive prices. You can check out our line card and stocklist on our website, or check our stock for yourself using our component search tool.