Agreement boosts silicon carbide potential

VC Professor Ian O'Connor and President of SICC Materials Co Ltd, Mr Zong Yanmin
Vice Chancellor Professor Ian OConnor and President of SICC Materials Co Ltd, Mr Zong Yanmin

California has its Silicon Valley and Queensland could have a Silicon Carbide Coast.

Speaking at the signing ceremony for an agreement between Griffith University and Chinese high-tech company SICC Materials Co Ltd, Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O’Connor said the collaboration would help build research capacity and could realise the establishment of a silicon carbide industry in southeast Queensland.

SICC Materials has committed $1 million over 10 years to Griffith’s Queensland Micro and Nanotechnology Centre (QMNC), allowing the continued creation of platform technologies enabling development of affordable silicon carbide devices for industry.

Last month’s signing ceremony was attended by the President of SICC Materials, Mr Zong Yanmin, along with Chinese consulate dignitaries and representatives from Griffith University and the State Government’s export and facilitation agency, Trade and Investment Queensland(TIQ).

Silicon carbide chip technology has many potential applications, including providing better quality and cheaper lighting and creating more efficient engine combustion. It is also bio-compatible, giving the potential for use in medical bio-sensing.

“Silicon microchips are the foundation of our electronic age and these new microchips could revolutionise the way we live,” said Professor O’Connor.

“Silicon carbide devices for high power, high frequency applications have significantly superior electrical, mechanical and thermal properties compared to the more common silicon devices used today. Those properties enable smaller, more efficient, sensitive and robust devices that are able to operate in harsh chemical and temperature environments.

“Together with SICC, we will seek to create silicon carbide devices that are cost effective and have superior performance.”

Other benefits of the agreement include ongoing information sharing and market opportunities; staff exchanges and training; work experience opportunities for Griffith students at SICC’s facilities in Jinan, China; and the creation of the Griffith University and SICC Joint Research and Development Centre.

Professor O’Connor thanked the State Government and Australia’s National Fabrication Facility which have funded the Queensland Microtechnology Facility within the QMNC.

QMF houses a large silicon wafer fabrication processing capability and enables research and development of silicon carbide on silicon substrates which are unique in the world. These can be used in applications including light-emitting diodes (LEDs), micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and power devices.

TIQhas worked with Griffith University and SICC for many years to develop research collaborations and commercialisation opportunities between Queensland and China.