Get an update on acquisitions and developments related to SiC power chips, modules and stacks.
Silicon carbide (SiC) chips are in the works, largely due to their ability to deliver higher switching efficiency and power density for a wide range of designs ranging from electric vehicles (EV) to renewable energy and drives. motor.
Here are some of the recent moves by large corporations, such as Microchip, ROHM, STMicroelectronics, and Infineon, that act as evidence that this semiconductor is serious business.
Microchip is the latest IC provider to announce SiC devices for EV systems such as external charging stations, on-board chargers, DC-DC converters, and powertrain and traction control solutions. The Chandler, Arizona-based chipmaker acquired its broadband technology through its purchase of Microsemi in 2018. This month, Microchip introduced a new suite of products that includes 700V SiC MOSFETs and Schottky barrier diodes. (SBC) of SiC 700 V and 1200 V.
These SiC chips (MOSFET and SBD) offer more efficient switching at higher frequencies and 20 percent better in robustness tests such as Non-Clamped Inductive Switching (UIS) than competing SiC diodes. The UIS endurance test measures how well devices withstand premature degradation or failure in avalanche conditions that occur when a voltage spike exceeds the breakdown voltage of the device.
Microchip also claims that its SiC MOSFETs demonstrate better gate oxide shielding and channel integrity with little wear life degradation even after 100,000 repetitive UIS (RUIS) test cycles.
Similarly, ROHM Semiconductor has released 10 new automotive grade SiC MOSFETs. ROHM is targeting its SCT3xxxxxHR series of SiC MOSFETs in on-board chargers and DC / DC converters. ROHM was the first chipmaker to make SiC MOSFETs in December 2010. Later, in 2012, it began supplying Schottky barrier diodes for on-board chargers.
ROHM has also announced the development of a 1700 V / 250 A SiC power module incorporating the company’s SiC MOSFETs and SiC’s Schottky barrier diodes; optimizes the internal structure to reduce ON resistance by 10 percent compared to other SiC products in this class.
ROHM is targeting BSM250D17P2E004 modules in inverter and converter applications in outdoor power generation systems and industrial high voltage power supplies. The Japanese chipmaker claims to have used new construction methods and coating materials to prevent dielectric breakdown and suppress increases in leakage current. That, in turn, ensures reliability in high-voltage, high-temperature environments.
Aside from the availability of new SiC products, what is most notable is how large chipmakers are acquiring SiC wafer assets in anticipation of future demands. Here are a couple of examples showing how these acquisitions are helping to expand the SiC ecosystem.
SiC Wafers: Develop or Acquire?
STMicroelectronics, for example, has acquired a majority in Swedish SiC wafer maker Norstel, which develops and manufactures bare and epitaxial 150mm SiC wafers. Norstel was founded in 2005 as a consequence of Linköping University.
Just a month earlier, in January 2019, STMicro signed a multi-year agreement for the supply of SiC wafers with Wolfspeed. Wolfspeed will supply ST with 150mm silicon carbide and epitaxial wafers.
Like ST, another chipmaker proactive in developing SiC-based chips and modules for automotive and industrial designs is Infineon Technologies. In November 2018, the German chipmaker announced the acquisition of a Dresden-based startup Siltectra.
Siltectra technology splits crystalline materials with minimal material loss compared to common cutting technologies. Siltectra screenshot.
Siltectra has developed “Cold Split” technology that processes crystalline material efficiently and with minimal material loss. Infineon plans to employ Cold Split technology to split SiC wafers and double the number of chips on one wafer.
These activities in the design and wafer fields show the accelerated evolution and adoption of SiC technology. SiC-based power chips, modules and stacks are now serving a variety of applications such as xEV, xEV charging infrastructure, PFC power supply, photovoltaics, uninterruptible power supply (UPS), motor drives, wind and rail .
What are your views on the emergence of SiC? Do you have experience designing EV systems? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Featured image used courtesy of Microchip.