© pichetw Analysis | May 27, 2015

Dedicated SiC device manufacturing capabilities more common

New wide band gap (WBG) materials are changing the power electronics industry landscape. Silicon carbide (SiC)-based devices are intended for high voltage, up to 1.7 kV, high frequency and high temperature applications.

These include rail, power factor correction (PFC), electric and hybrid electric vehicle (EV/HEV) inverters, electricity grid applications and wind and photovoltaic (PV) inverters. “The performance of SiC-based devices clearly adds value compared to silicon device technology”, comments Dr Hong Lin, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole Développement. “Moreover, the WBG penetration makes efficient packages mandatory, so that devices’ high frequency, high voltage or high temperature capabilities can be best exploited”, she adds. In two of its technology and market analyses, Status of the Power Electronics Industry (Feb. 2015) and SiC Modules, Devices and Substrates for the Power Electronics Market (Oct. 2014), Yole confirms the commercialization of SiC-based devices in the rail traction segment, for example with Mitsubishi Electric in Japan. In parallel, PV inverters have already been launched based on WBG devices.
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According to Yole’s analysis, there are more than 30 companies worldwide that have established a dedicated SiC device manufacturing capability with related commercial and promotion activities. “Infineon and Cree are still leading the SiC device market, followed by Rohm, STMicroelectronics and Mitsubishi Electric, who are also in mass production,” explains Dr Hong Lin. “Fuji Electric is catching up as well”. In Asia, besides Japanese firms, such as Rohm Semiconductor, Mitsubishi Electric, Fuji Electric, Panasonic, Toshiba, Hitachi, Chinese companies are now entering the SiC playground:
  • Global Power Technology became the first company in China to commercialize SiC power devices with a capacity of 1000 wafers per year.
  • SGCC and CSR are developing SiC technology for grid and rail applications, respectively.
  • The leading Chinese EV/HEV player, BYD, showed clear interest in using SiC technology in its cars and has tested devices from Cree.
In Taiwan, a fabless SiC company called Hestia Power is emerging and has started to commercialize SiC diodes. In Korea, Maple Semiconductor and Hyundai have signed an agreement to develop SiC devices. (Source: SiC Modules, Devices and Substrates for the Power Electronics Market). “We can reasonably expect Asian players to be more important in the SiC business in coming years”, comments Pierric Gueguen, Yole.
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