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Silicon Carbide in Power Electronics – Innovation at the Forefront

Green initiatives are driving the transformation of power electronic system designs across major industries such as automotive, industrial, aerospace and defense. To reduce CO2 emissions, systems are moving toward electrification of power and motor applications.

Green initiatives are driving the transformation of power electronic system designs across major industries such as automotive, industrial, aerospace and defense. To reduce CO2 emissions, systems are moving toward electrification of power and motor applications. One of the leading technologies helping to transition these applications is Silicon Carbide (SiC).

 

Although SiC isn’t new to the world of power electronics, it’s becoming more widely available with a much broader device offering from multiple component suppliers. The SiC market has doubled over the last three years and estimates project it will  be greater than $10B within the next 10 years, which would be a growth factor of around 20x of today’s market value. Hybrid and electric vehicles (H/EVs) are the main applications driving this growth, with industrial and other applications also benefitting from SiC advantages.

 

In many applications silicon-based devices have reached their theoretical maximum efficiency and cost savings. The characteristics of newer SiC technology offer many advantages over silicon-based designs – such as improved system efficiency, higher power density and greater temperature stability. Benefits to the system-level operation when using SiC are high voltage operation and lower switching losses. Benefits to the power stage are high switching frequencies, smaller filter and passive components, and fewer cooling needs.

 

All of these SiC advantages relate to the system-level benefits of being smaller size and lighter weight, with a lower overall system cost.

 

Microchip has a long history within the high-power electronics community designing and developing die, discrete and module Silicon-based devices. Over 10 years ago Microchip began investing in the SiC market with a focus in developing both SiC Schottky Barrier Diodes, SiC MOSFETs and SiC Power Modules. The second half of 2019 Microchip introduced the newest generation of SiC die, discrete and module solutions. Devices are available in 700 V, 1200 V and 1700 V families across a variety of current, on-resistance topologies and package options. 

 

In line with Microchip’s commitment to delivering total system solutions, our AgileSwitch® product line provides a digital programmable gate drive solution targeted at maximizing the benefits of SiC through our unique Augmented Switching™ approach. Augmented Switching allows easy configuration of SiC MOSFET turn on/turn off times, and voltage levels, enabling faster switching and higher system efficiencies while lowering the SiC gate driver development complexities and time.

 

All Microchip SiC solutions are developed, produced and supported with our commitment to quality, supply and support – what we call QSS. Take a closer look at the features that will benefit your development and design:

 

● Quality: Proven reliability and ruggedness 

 

    > Avalanche capability – class leading up to 25 J/cm2 

 

       ○ System Benefit: Reduce snubber needs and increase application life with no 
          degradation in performance even after 100 K cycles of repetitive unclamped
          inductive switching 

   > Short circuit withstand capability –short circuit withstand times comparable to IGBTs

 
      ○ System benefit: Optimized device design allows time to service fault conditions
         without damage to the system 

   > SiC MOSFET body diode reliability – no degradation in device performance after 
      time, temperature and gate voltage stress conditions 


      ○ System benefit: Use of internal body diode without RDSon degradation. Body
         Diode usage lowers system cost by eliminating the need for external Schottky
         Barrier Diodes. 

● Supply: Risk-averse approach throughout our supply chain 

 

   > Multiple sources for all steps in manufacturing flow, no EOL policy, competitive lead 
      times 

● Support: Standard and custom die, discrete, module and gate driver options for small
   to large clients

   > Broad and flexible portfolio allowing applications to grow through maturity and
      generations. Strong infrastructure and processes for demanding markets such as
      A&D and automotive. 

 

SiC adoption and transition is well under way – enabling innovative new designs and power solutions. SiC is revolutionizing power electronics, within major industry segments such as automotive, industrial, aerospace and defense. SiC system level benefits relate to smaller size, lighter weight and lower overall cost. Microchip provides everything you need for your SiC system: die, discrete, gate drive and power module options. Microchip’s SiC solutions are supported by our QSS commitment – quality, supply and support.

 

Orlando Esparza, May 4, 2020