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The Future of European SiC Power Electronics. Dr David Hinchley (Semelab) & Dr Roger Bassett (Areva T&D). Introduction. Infineon was the first company to produce commercial SiC power semiconductor devices, launching a range of Schottky diodes in February 2001.

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the future of european sic power electronics

The Future of European SiC Power Electronics

Dr David Hinchley (Semelab)

& Dr Roger Bassett (Areva T&D)

  • Infineon was the first company to produce commercial SiC power semiconductor devices, launching a range of Schottky diodes in February 2001.
  • Coupled with ABB’s pioneering activity, Europe looked well positioned to lead the world in SiC power electronics.
  • Four years later, the balance of power has firmly shifted towards the US and Japan.
  • Europe still appears focused on industrial market.
  • US targeting defence applications and Japan developing automotive products
  • Low current Schottky diodes were the first technologically viable SiC devices.
  • Infineon launched 300V and 600V range in 2001.
  • Cree launched 600V diode range in 2002, and has since added 300V and 1200V devices.
  • Principal applications are PFC, SMPS and motor drives.

Infineon SiC Schottky Diode (Infineon Image)

  • SiCED estimated $4M worldwide market for SiC Schottky diodes in 2004 [1]. Cree reported diode sales of $3M in FY2004.
  • Market growth slow as SiC Schottkys are not a “plug-in” replacements for Ultrafast Si diodes.
  • Need complete circuit redesign to achieve significant price-performance advantage.

Semelab prototype 1200V hybrid Si IGBT/SiC Schottky diode module

  • US SiC R&D is dominated by DoD projects, with Cree as main subcontractor.
  • ONR has identified SiC as an key enabling technology for the Electric Ship.
  • Power demands for electric ships expected to be up to 100MW. Volume and weight of electrical systems is critical.
  • “Use of SiC devices in marine applications may seem inevitable.” [2]
  • WBST-HPE Project
    • Phase I: 10kV 50A SiC PIN diode & 10kV MOSFET.
    • Phase II: 10kV 110A SiC MOSFET/PIN diode module.
    • Phase III 15kV 110A SiC IGBT/PIN diode modules.
  • US Navy plans to use SiC technology in next-generation aircraft carrier, due for launch in 2013.
  • SiC SSPS give weight saving of 170 tons and volume saving of 290m3.

CVN-78 Aircraft Carrier (Northrop Grumman image)

transmission distribution
Transmission & Distribution
  • 10kV devices developed for marine applications will also be used for land-based electrical power distribution.
  • SiC an enabling technology in move towards renewable energy sources and distributed generation [3].
  • SiC offers significantly higher performance and lower cost than Silicon solutions for T&D, despite higher per unit area device costs [4].
  • Toyota world leader in HEV development. Predicts sales of 300,000 units (>$6bn) worldwide in 2006.
  • Size and weight of power electronic systems is critical in HEVs. SiC is clearly an enabling technology.
  • Toyota now world leader in SiC technology, producing virtually defect free material that makes high current devices feasible [5].

Toyota Prius (Toyota image)

  • Europe remains obsessed with diesel rather than HEVs. “The future of diesel is just beginning” – head of Mercedes-Benz
  • Unlike Toyota, no European manufacturers have a semiconductor capability.
  • European automotive companies relying on component manufacturers to develop SiC technology.

Lexus RX400h Drive (Toyota image)

  • Europe first to enter SiC market but has surrendered lead.
  • Industrial market is developing slowly. US and Japan focused on longer-term defence and automotive applications, where SiC is an enabling technology. T&D will be a spin-off from defence work.
  • DoD financing SiC development in US. Japanese R&D programmes being funded by automotive industry, with government support.
  • Europe needs a SiC programme with budget >$10M per year to remain competitive. Otherwise, reliant on US and Japan for next-generation SiC power electronic systems.
  • [1] D.Stephani, “Today’s and tomorrow’s industrial utilization of silicon carbide semiconductor power devices,” Revue de l'Électricité et de l'Électronique, Feb 2004, pp. 23-24.
  • [2] T.Ericsen, N.Hingorani & Y.Khersonsky, “Power Electronics and future marine electrical systems,” IEE Petroleum and Chemical Industry Technical Conference, 13-15 Sep 2004.
  • [3] R.Bassett & J.Ballad, “SiC device offer improved reliability for T&D applications,” CIRED 18th International Conference on Electricity Distribution, Turin, 6-9 Jun 2005.
  • [4] C.M.Johnson, “Current state-of-the-art and future prospects for power semiconductor devices in power transmission and distribution applications.” International Journal of Electronics, vol. 90, 2003, pp. 667-693.
  • [5] D.Nakamura et al., “Ultrahigh-quality silicon carbide single crystals,” Nature vol. 430, 26 Aug 2004, pp. 1009-1012.