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Power electronics

Power electronics is a field in which Japanese industry still maintains high competitiveness in the global market. The core technology is SiC (silicon carbide) power semiconductor devices, which are considered highly promising innovative devices that will contribute to creating a low-carbon society. Power electronics research domain of TIA is based on R&D on SiC crystal growth, wafer processing, epitaxial film growth and SiC device manufacturing which AIST has been the world leader in R&D of SiC for over 30 years. Companies, universities and research institutes have come together and are playing the central role in Japan's world-leading SiC R&D.

Building an SiC power device research environment 
and promoting state-of-the-art research

Cleanroom for producing SiC device prototype

SiC devices prototype on 3-inch wafer

AIST, which has a large cleanroom for producing SiC prototype devices, has been working to establish evaluation technologies through accumulation of various data concerning wafers and devices and to increase the efficiency of the manufacturing process. At TIA, AIST and universities conduct a wide range of basic research (defect evaluation, study of new structural devices, simulation, etc.), and the results of such research are used for applied research that meets the needs of industry. Particular focus is placed on R&D for the manufacture of next-generation large-diameter wafers, high-breakdown voltage devices, etc. in which companies such as automobile, materials, processing and device manufacturers cooperate in an integrated manner.

Tsukuba Power-Electronics Constellations (TPEC):
an industryfunded open innovation consortium

Number of TPEC member organizations by year

Under the initiative of AIST, the Tsukuba Power-Electronics Constellations (TPEC) has been operated as a new industry-funded consortium for promoting open innovation in power electronics since April 2012. TPEC is operated in a self-sustaining manner, with global companies related to power electronics and small and medium-sized enterprises possessing advanced technologies sharing the research costs and covering most of the R&D funds. In addition to promoting R&D for industrial applications, developing capable human resources who will lead the next generation in power electronics is also an important mission of TPEC.

SiC power electronics line (SPEL)

In response to expectations in energy-saving technology using SiC power devices for hybrid cars and railway vehicles, full-fledged use of 6-inch-class SiC power semiconductor wafers has accelerated. At the TIA’s power electronics R&D platform, new lines that are capable of mass producing SiC power semiconductor devices were built, in cooperation with industry, and brought into operation. This is the world’s first open innovation platform for 6-inch-class wafer processing. The development and promotion of technologies for mass production, reliability evaluation, and quality evaluation for SiC power devices are anticipated.


Technology development consortium ASCOT

Concept of ASCOT
Concept of ASCOT

In May 2016, AIST established a new technology development consortium called Applied Superconductivity Constellations of Tsukuba (ASCOT) consisting of 26 organizations.20 industrial companies and six academic and public research organizations. The purposes of ASCOT include the development of an open innovation platform unique to Japan supported by a wide range of participants, namely industries, universities, and public research institutes engaging in various aspects of superconductivity, from materials development to the development of cooling technology to the development of application systems. Taking advantage of the consortium, ASCOT also aims to create innovations and develop human resources for the next generation.


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