PhD Studentship: Eliminating defects in wide bandgap materials for power electronics reliability [STU0447]

Website DiamondLightSou Diamond Light Source

Supervisors: Dr Oliver Fox from Diamond Light Source Ltd, Dr Tamzin Lafford from Bruker UK Ltd. and Dr Vishal Shah from University of Warwick

Project description:

Wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductor materials, such as Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN), have recently been introduced into the power electronics market, with early adoption of SiC devices in hybrid and fully electric cars being the main driver of industrial uptake. Predictions state that the market will be worth $2bn by 2024 and of direct relevance to achieving the UK’s net zero commitment.

A major issue for SiC power electronic devices is long-term reliability due to intrinsic extended defects, e.g. the presence of basal plane dislocations in the starting substrate. In a critical area, these defects drastically reduce device long-term reliability. An in-depth study of extended defects in WBG materials and devices is key to mitigating their effects.

This studentship will expand on recent collaborative work between the University of Warwick, Bruker UK Ltd. and Diamond Light Source which has begun to develop techniques for transmission, surface and cross-sectional imaging of defects in research and commercial off the shelf material and devices. The studentship will involve the study of SiC materials from device fabrication facilities in the power electronics group (PEATER) at the University of Warwick, lab based non-destructive X-ray diffraction imaging (XRDI) at Bruker Ltd. and synchrotron white beam XRDI (SWB-XRDI) at the B16 Beamline at DLS. Dr Shah is at the forefront of WBG power materials research in the UK while B16 is a leader in synchrotron XRDI and Bruker has several decades experience developing leading-edge XRDI tools for lab and industry.

The proposed studentship will build on the existing SWB-XRDI capability at B16 and will 1) optimise XRDI techniques for defect detection and classification, 2) investigate WBG defect correlation and classification compared to other techniques, 3) develop in-situ high electrical current density, UV light and thermal stressing on-chip to investigate the real-time defect dynamics within research and commercial devices, and 4) study the correlation of defect with electrical results and develop defect mitigation strategies.

Please note this project is for students who can qualify for UK fees only, please see more information on Warwick’s wbesite. To apply, email your CV (including grades so far) to Dr Vishal Shah (

Diamond Light Source Ltd holds an Athena SWAN Bronze Award, demonstrating their commitment to provide equal opportunities and to advance the representation of women in STEM/M subjects: science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

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