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A Revolutionary Process Technology for Next-Generation Semiconductors, Developed at Kwansei Gakuin
On March 1, Kwansei Gakuin University held an online press conference to announce Dynamic AGE-ing®, a nano-control process technology that eliminates defects in substrates made from SiC (silicon carbide), a next-generation power semiconductor material, without making surface contact. The technology is being developed jointly with Toyota Tsusho Corporation, and a total of 24 people from 22 companies attended the press conference. President Osamu Murata (Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of Kwansei Gakuin University) and Professor Tadaaki Kaneko, of the School of Science and Technology, explained the innovation of this technology, and discussed KGU's open innovation efforts with Toyota Tsusho for implementing it in society.
Power semiconductors, the general term for semiconductors that control and supply power, are used in all kinds of electronic devices. At present, most substrates are made of silicon (Si), but the demand for SiC power semiconductors is expected to grow significantly in the future. Compared to Si, SiC can significantly reduce power loss, making power usage more efficient and cooling devices smaller. Leveraging these characteristics, the practical use of SiC substrates has begun in fields where innovations in green energy are moving forward, such as electric vehicles (EV, HV, FCV), railroads, industrial equipment, and electric power. SiC is expected to have a significant ripple effect on efforts to make a low-carbon society a reality.
Professor Kaneko's laboratory has produced many research results to date by making full use of the latest equipment and originally developed devices. Since 2005, Professor Kaneko's "Green Mobility Materials Development Project" has been developed as a priority support project of the university, and in 2017, it was designated by the Board of Trustees as the first project for "Kwansei Gakuin Academic Relations," up until the present.
One of the greatest strengths of the Kaneko Laboratory is that the students themselves possess a high level of "ability to create things" and "ability to see things" at the same time. The "Dynamic AGE-ing®" which was developed this time was also born from a quick PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle driven by the proactive involvement of individual students, and a system which allows them to derive optimal process conditions, based on principles, in a short period of time. This technology is expected to attract attention for its ability to improve the quality of SiC substrates, regardless of manufacturer or size. In the future, together with Toyota Tsusho, Kwansei Gakuin University will begin supplying samples to semiconductor device manufacturers, proceed with evaluation and verification for the introduction of this technology into mass production lines, and accelerate development for its application with large-diameter 8-inch SiC substrates, which are expected to become widespread.
At the press conference, Professor Kaneko said, "I have been working with students on SiC-related technology development for 20 years. I would like to utilize Toyota Tsusho's corporate network to promote technology development and its practical application through open innovation, in which user companies and manufacturers can widely participate. President Murata also expressed his strong determination, saying, "We have established 'sustainable energy' as a key theme at the Kobe Sanda Campus, and we would like to take the innovative process technology presented at this conference and implement it in society."
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