Market Insights

Enjoy the Summer

July 01, 2015 by Bodo Arlt

As I live in a region with such different seasons, it is nice to enjoy the warmth and maybe to have a swim in the Baltic Sea. While the water is still

As I live in a region with such different seasons, it is nice to enjoy the warmth and maybe to have a swim in the Baltic Sea. While the water is still a little chilly, it will warm up during the summer; all those people on our beaches can’t be wrong.  

PCIM Europe in Nuremberg was exciting as always, fueled primarily by the transition of power semiconductors to Silicon Carbide and Gallium Nitride. After decades of discussion, we are now finally in a transition phase with many vendors and practical applications by a myriad of customers. Silicon Carbide is establishing a strong position in the upper voltage range, from 600 volts up to kilovolts. SiC Diodes are now mature and widely used to reduce switching losses when used in conjunction with silicon devices. Module solutions incorporating SiC are commonly available, and some companies like ROHM and Mitsubishi, have modules fully built with Silicon Carbide. USCi now offers a discrete packaged cascode-switch device, with a depletion mode SiC high-voltage MOSFET and a low-voltage silicon MOSFET. This device functions like a common N-channel MOSFET, but with vastly improved performance. And Cree demonstrates continuing improvements in their line of n-type SiC FETs.

SiC devices use a vertical structure, their benefits resulting from the material characteristics, while GaN utilizes a dense lateral design and high electron mobility. Both reach new performance limits. GaN has a dominant position in the lower voltage range. It is nice to see all the variations of alliances that are building: Infineon, as we know, bought IR and also works with Panasonic, Texas Instruments works with Efficient Power Conversion (EPC)  with a silicon driver IC and an EPC GaN chip together as a half bridge, Integrat-ed Device Technology (IDT) announced its collaboration with Efficient Power Conversion EPC for more efficient solutions, and Transphorm and ON Semiconductor announced the production start of co-branded GaN power devices. Phew! What’s next ?  

WBG technology will become mainstream. The podium I moderated at the PCIM Europe had all the key players describing how they insure reliability, the basis of confidence for new equipment designs to take advantage of the technology. In the next few years we can expect continual transition, similar to when Bipolar Transistors converted to MOSFETs, and shortly thereafter in the late 80’s, as IGBTs took over the motion control market. I expect that EPE ECCE in Geneva, and also ECCE in Montreal Canada will continue to focus on Wide Band Gap devices and applications of a wider range. I can’t wait to see what APEC in Long Beach in March 2016 will have in store for us!

But before APEC we can enjoy the summer, look forward to Thanksgiving, and then wait for Santa. He will continue to bring many exciting gifts.

We have delivered seven issues this year. All technical articles are archived on my web-site and are also retrievable at PowerGuru. Bodo’s Power Systems reaches readers across the globe. If you speak the language, or just want to have a look, don’t miss our Chinese version:

My Green Power Tip for July:

Consider installing a solar panel on the roof of your house to warm your water (and cool your roof). And a photovoltaic solar system could provide an independent electrical power supply. Capture some energy and reduce demand – it’s worth it.