Research shows benefits of using SiC for some sensors
Experiments with SiC grown at the Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre (QMNC) at Griffith University, Australia have demonstrated the compound's superiority as a semiconductor for high performance sensors.
The findings, which appear in the specialist publication Journal of Materials Chemistry C, are claimed to be the first to present the effect of mechanical strain on the electrical conductivity of SiC deposited on silicon wafers.
"Over the past 50 years, silicon has been the dominant material used as a semiconductor for sensing devices and that continues today," said Dzung Dao (pictured above), from Griffith's School of Engineering and one of the lead researchers. "However, silicon is not suitable for electronic devices at high temperatures above 200degC due to the generation of thermal carriers and junction leakage."
"SiC, on the other hand," he said,"possesses excellent mechanical strength, chemical inertness, thermal durability and electrical stability due to its unique electronic structure. Thus it holds promise as the material for high performance sensors in, for example, deep-oil and coal mining, combustion engines, energy conversion devices and so on."
He adds: "Silicon carbide is already used in power electronics and these results are very encouraging for sensor technology, particularly in harsh working environments."
The device-grade SiC for this research was grown on six inches of silicon wafer at low temperature by Sima Dimitrijev's team at QMNC.
'The effect of strain on the electrical conductance of p-type nanocrystalline silicon carbide thin films' by Hoang-Phuong Phan et al, can be read in full at J. Mater. Chem. C, 2015,3, 1172-1176, DOI: 10.1039/C4TC02679A