From Schottky Diodes to MOSFETS: 3 Team-ups Lower Power with SiC Technology
The world of SiC technology is about to boom with three different team-ups, from research to large tech companies. Who is teaming up, how are they advancing with SiC, and why?
Power is often the name of the game when designing components. Ensuring the most power-conscious designs can often be difficult, thus making it essential to look at all options, from semiconductor materials to teaming up with other companies; what's most important is power design.
Lately, silicon carbide (SiC) is quickly becoming a promising technology for enhancing power conversion and supply systems. Expectedly, prominent players are building strategic partnerships to take advantage of SiC-based technologies.
Comparison of Si, SiC, and GaN for different variables. Image used courtesy of Avnet
This article will break down how these different partnerships are harnessing SiC in various technological applications, starting with Avnet and Infineon.
Avnet and Infineon Delivering CoolSiC Technology
With the increasing need for cost-effective, efficient, and portable power conversion devices and systems globally, engineers are consistently designing new technologies and improving existing ones.
Avnet recently announced its collaboration with Infineon to deploy energy-efficient power devices through CoolSiC technologies to meet this need. This team-up promises better solutions for engineers building ground-breaking power systems for a wide range of applications.
The Avnet-Infineon collaboration could benefit various power-related applications since it focuses on utilizing SiC rather than the conventional silicon (Si) semiconductors.
Before this collaboration, Infineon had over 20 years of experience developing and supplying SiC technology for smarter and more efficient power generation, transmission, and consumption, including the CoolSiC portfolio.
A high-level look at some of the benefits the CoolSiC family claims from using SiC. Image used courtesy of Infineon
Avnet is a worldwide technology distribution and solutions provider with a century of existence in the tech ecosystem. It has consistently supported designers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in every phase of the product life-cycle, from idea conception to production and distribution.
Furthermore, Infineon is currently leveraging its impeccable global distribution network to participate in the SiC technology market, which has a projected CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 30%. Thus, while Infineon contributes CoolSic technology to the collaboration, Avnet provides its distribution channels.
Avnet is also currently selling Infineon's EVAL-1ED3122MC12H-SiC, an evaluation board exclusive for developers and engineers to test the capabilities of CoolSic technology. In addition, both companies are leaving no stone unturned by offering comprehensive training programs for power system designers who intend to apply the technology.
Avnet and Infineon's team-up for SiC is just one of many recently taking place, another is happening between Gospower and Cree.
Gospower and Cree Colab For SiC Data Center Solutions
With the rising development of cloud-based storage, 5G technology, artificial intelligence, and distributed storage comes the increased demand for server and computing power supply.
To help with that issue, Gospower and Cree recently announced their partnership to develop a state-of-the-art Common Redundant Power Supply (CRPS) solution that applies SiC technology to meet high power-efficient digital storage demands.
Delivering this solution, Gospower, with its experience in power electronics conversion, incorporates Cree's Wolfspeed 650V SiC MOSFETS, promising a reliable, efficient, cost-effective, and portable power supply required for an optimized data center functioning.
Cree Wolfspeed's 650V SiC MOSFETS. Image used courtesy of Cree Wolfspeed
Cree Inc., an American semiconductor manufacturer, and marketer, developed the Wolfspeed 650V SiC MOSFETS to ensure high power efficiency and density in power systems.
Key features include the following:
- Low parasitic capacitances
- Through-hole and SMT packages that match up to industry specifications
- Reduced on-state resistance to temperature
- Comparatively lower switching and conducting losses
- Efficient operation in high temperatures
According to Cree's CEO, the company has attempted to strategically position itself to usher in the wide acceptance and application of SiC technology with its innovative Wolfspeed Silicon Carbide devices. He also states that collaboration with Gospower is necessary to improve the power supply sector by developing SiC technology-based solutions.
By innovating SiC for data center applications, both Cree and Gospower hope to help solve it demanding issue of power. A final team-up hoping to improve further SiC technology consists of three parties.
A Triple Team-up for SiC Schottky Diodes
Can SiC Schottky diodes be manufactured at a wafer level? Would they perform better? And ultimately, is this concept technologically and economically viable?
These are some questions current research by Queensland Semiconductor Technology (Questsemi) and Griffith University seeks to answer with funding support from the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC).
The importance of SiC Schottky diodes in semiconductor production and distribution is often underestimated, though it plays a significant role, especially when weighing which material to make it on. Thus, this collaboration is invaluable to the design, manufacture, and commercialization of semiconductor devices to meet local and global demands in drones, solar inverters, EV battery chargers, high-frequency power converters, and industrial motor drive applications.
While Questsemi is the commercial arm of the collaboration, Griffith University and IMCRC are the research and economic arms, respectively. This setup could help them mass-produce and distribute the SiC Schottky diodes since they have the funding for research and development, the expertise, and the distribution channel.
Although the SiC diode manufacturing process is complex and highly capital intensive, researchers at Griffith University adopted conventional silicon wafer processing techniques to simplify manufacturing and decimate costs. Combining that with the significant funding from IMCRC to the tune of $1.3 million promises a quick transition of the research to ground-breaking commercialized technology.
With all of this interest from so many companies, it makes SiC technology seem like it is starting to hit its stride, which is no wonder with the benefits it claims to have. However, with benefits, also come drawbacks. To drive home the reason so many companies are willing to put their "chips" on SiC as the next top semiconductor material, it might be beneficial to outline some pros and cons.
Benefits and Limitations of SiC
SiC semiconductors offer several benefits in power systems. Some of them include:
- High band-gap energy levels of 3.2 eV compared to other semiconductor materials for wide application ranges
- Power loss reductions of up to 70%
- High energy efficiency of about 98.6%
- Reduced cooling system requirements
- It can operate at high temperatures
- High power density
- Improved device portability: 30% floor space reduction
SiC power loss reduction. Image used courtesy of Mitsubishi
SiCs, however, has some of the following drawbacks:
- High cost of manufacturing and processing
- Excessive use of furnaces to produce the silicon used in their manufacture
- Complex manufacturing processes
- Susceptible to various fabrication defects
Although the transition from silicon to SiC may seem daunting because of the various limitations, it could be inevitable because of the many benefits it offers. Since the benefits look like they outweigh the drawbacks, its mass adoption appears imminent. Researchers and developers can discover better ways to simplify its fabrication process and lower manufacturing costs, just like the researchers at Griffith University. The future will likely hold many more SiC news, innovations, and team-ups.
Interested in other SiC news? Find out more in the articles down below.