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College of Engineering, National Sun Yat-sen University

Development of 6-Inch Gallium Oxide Single Crystal Blocks - National Sun Yat-sen University Collaborates on Emerging Semiconductor Technology

Emerging semiconductor materials continue to advance, with gallium oxide (Ga2O3) finding widespread applications. The Crystal Research Center of National Sun Yat-sen University has signed a project cooperation agreement with Taiwan Applied Crystal Co., Ltd., and its affiliated group, for the "Large-size Gallium Oxide Crystal Growth" project. The company is investing 50 million NT dollars in researching gallium oxide single crystal blocks (Bulk Crystal), aiming to successfully produce 6-inch gallium oxide single crystal blocks within three years. This collaboration aims to contribute to Taiwan's leadership in next-generation semiconductor materials, with promising prospects.

In recent years, electric vehicles, aerospace, communication, and energy applications have gained global attention, driving a high demand for next-generation compound semiconductor materials. Professor Ming-Chi Chou, from the Department of Materials and Optoelectronic Science at National Sun Yat-sen University and the director of the Crystal Research Center, pointed out that gallium oxide (Ga₂O₃), another wide bandgap semiconductor material after gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon carbide (SiC), is emerging as a future star. Gallium oxide exhibits significant advantages in various performance indicators, including the ability to withstand higher voltage and critical electric fields. Its power loss is 1/3400 of silicon and 1/10 of silicon carbide. With unique properties such as transparency and conductivity, gallium oxide's applications span electric vehicles, power systems, wind power generation, communication, optoelectronic components, and areas like optical and gas sensing, making it highly prospective.

Professor Chou emphasized that the growth rate and stable quality are crucial factors in upstream semiconductor materials. While there have been efforts worldwide to develop gallium oxide epitaxial thin films, currently, neither academic institutions nor companies in Taiwan can grow gallium oxide single crystal blocks. The growth process for gallium oxide single crystal blocks takes 10 days, involves high melting points, and requires maintaining a stable state in a high-temperature and sealed crystal growth furnace, making the threshold for crystal growth quite high.

He highlighted that the Crystal Research Center of National Sun Yat-sen University, having recently received support as the second-phase Ministry of Education Deepening Research Center, is the only laboratory capable of growing next-generation silicon carbide crystals. Last year, they successfully grew 6-inch diameter silicon carbide crystal blocks, transferring the technology to Taiwan Applied Crystal Co., Ltd., and its affiliated group, fostering confidence in continued collaboration. The Crystal Research Center had also previously grown 40mm diameter (approximately 1.5 inches) gallium oxide single crystal blocks and aims to make breakthroughs in critical technologies over the next three years. Leveraging years of crystal growth experience, they have designed crystal growth equipment, and the crystal growth furnaces are manufactured by enterprises incubated by the Innovation and Incubation Center of National Sun Yat-sen University. This includes power supplies and computer control systems, with 100% MIT (Made in Taiwan), and they currently have four 6-inch silicon carbide crystal growth furnaces and one 8-inch silicon carbide crystal growth furnace.

Additionally, Professor Chou mentioned that the Crystal Research Center has successfully grown scintillation crystals used in Positron Emission Tomography (PET) for advanced medical products. PET is a crucial diagnostic tool in the medical field for cancer and neurological diseases. The center is currently collaborating with a technology transfer enterprise group, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, and Philips (Netherlands), to develop whole-body PET imaging devices. This collaboration aims to significantly reduce the time required for Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT) examinations, alleviating patients' symptoms of claustrophobia. In the future, close collaboration with the School of Medicine at National Sun Yat-sen University is anticipated, contributing to the establishment of advanced medical imaging equipment and hospitals.


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