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SBIR Phase II:Rapid-scanning Ultrafast Imaging Microscope for Material Inspection

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2208201
Agency Tracking Number: 2208201
Amount: $1,000,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: IH
Solicitation Number: NSF 21-565
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-01-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-12-31
Small Business Information
3365 Washtenaw Ave., Ste. 209
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
United States
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Eric Martin
 (423) 321-2076
Business Contact
 Eric Martin
Phone: (423) 321-2076
Research Institution

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project will address the widespread industry challenge of improving yield in compound semiconductor device production. Compound semiconductors with a wide bandgap are needed for high power devices in electric vehicles (EVs), high frequency components in 5G electronics, and energy-efficient displays. The compound semiconductor market, valued at $36+ billion in 2022, has increased recently with growing consumer demand for EVs.The annual growth rate of silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductors, the most prominent devices, is estimated at over 20%. Despite the wide-scale production of these components in an industry that expects near perfection in manufacturing, the current yield of power electronic components is less than 50%. Poor yield results largely from an inability to adequately inspect substrates and epitaxial wafers used for power electronics. Instead, the industry currently relies on inspection tools with poor defect selectivity or destructive methods that can only provide statistical information about the defects in a wafer batch. To increase wafer yield, the team will develop a new type of optical inspection tool for selectively measuring defects in every wafer. If successful, this novel inspection technology will enable the industry to help drive down costs and increase performance of energy-efficient power electronics._x000D_
The intellectual merit of this project is the novel way in which technology developed for use in fundamental science is being applied to rapid semiconductor inspection. The proposed method, called ultrafast imaging, uses the nonlinear optical response of a semiconductor induced by an ultrafast laser to isolate defects that measurably impact the electronic structure of the semiconductor. Though the semiconductor industry has typically focused on measuring morphology to find defects, measurement of compound semiconductors requires a tool that is sensitive to the electronic structure. This project will validate ultrafast imaging through benchmark testing against industry standards and develop an easy-to-use device for getting this technology into the hands of manufacturers. Partner manufacturing and inspection companies will provide inspection data and corresponding wafers, allowing correlation of ultrafast imaging defect measurements with data provided by other industry tools. Additionally, the team will develop and demonstrate an easy-to-use commercial product for user facilities and industrial research and development facilities, another essential step in the development of a high-throughput inspection tool. This benchtop product will not only improve current semiconductor technologies but will also be useful for scientists to characterize the next generation of semiconductors._x000D_
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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