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Texas State lands NSF grant for innovative research into transistor heat management

Jayme Blaschke | October 31, 2018

transistor
piner
Edwin Piner

Edwin Piner, Department of Physics, has received a $410,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the effects of an innovative approach to temperature management in power transistors. 

Specific applications that will benefit from the research include electric vehicles, power conversion for flexible integration of renewable energy sources to the nation's power grid, radar systems and communications systems for first-responder, defense and civilian uses.

The three-year grant was awarded by the Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems and will fund Piner's research project, "Integrated Selective Growth of Diamond and Gallium Nitride (GaN) for Thermal Management."

Diamond, as an electronic material, has the best heat conduction properties and is readily produced by commercial equipment and processes. Gallium nitride is a semiconductor material that has seen commercial success in high efficiency light emitting diode bulbs, radio wave communications and radars, and power conversion switches. The full potential of gallium nitride, however, is limited by the material's inability to efficiently conduct heat. 

The project's aim is to combine diamond and gallium nitride in a novel approach that will focus on:

  • The processes that produce both materials
  • An in-depth characterization of the electronic and thermal properties (emphasizing heat flow)
  • Fabrication of test structures
  • Thermal conduction simulations 

There are broad needs for combining diamond's thermal benefits within individual circuitry that comprises today's electronics. Transistors and switches (the backbone of the entire high-tech industry) produce substantial heat, and the problem is continually getting worse as devices become smaller and the density of electronic components packed together on circuit boards increases. 

The research is expected to result in basic and applied knowledge regarding material deposition and properties of the diamond-GaN interface region. Results will be published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at national and international conferences. For more information about the grant and the National Science Foundation, visit www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1810419.

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For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922