How SiC Can be a Game Changer in Power Electronics
New forms of power design include semiconductor materials beyond silicon, which has been a mainstay in electronics for the past five decades. Silicon carbide (SiC), which is used for vehicles and factory equipment, is poised to overtake silicon in power electronics someday, but maybe not completely. Here are deeper details on SiC and its importance in the electronics world.
Purpose of SiC
SiC is the chemical abbreviation for silicon carbide, a crystalline semiconductor material. But it's nothing new to scientists, as it's been around for over a century. One of its many uses has been as diodes, which are components in radio equipment for blocking voltages. SiC was the foundation for creating the first LEDs, although it was soon replaced by the more efficient gallium nitride. Here are some of the reasons that SiC devices are favored for electronic circuitry:
- able to handle 10 times more voltage than silicon
- higher current and conductance
- can withstand high temperature and dissipate more heat than silicon
- switches much faster than silicon
- band-gap is three times greater than with silicon
Where SiC is Headed
Many companies now invest in researching how to improve SiC devices and components. SiC products include MOSFETs, diodes and modules. Companies that manufacture SiC devices include Wolfspeed, ROHM Semiconductor and Infineon.
Even though SiC is more effective than silicon in certain ways, its high production costs keep it from replacing silicon for power circuitry, which has entered a phasing out stage. So there are other alternatives such as gallium nitride being considered. Demand for SiC technology will likely continue in the future due to the need for devices that can handle certain voltages, currents and temperatures. In other words, SiC is not disappearing anytime soon, as it will likely play a prominent role in electronics for the next decade.