New Industry Products

Cree Launches First Commercial Silicon Carbide Power MOSFET

January 17, 2011 by Jeff Shepard

In a move that the company says heralds a performance revolution in energy efficient power electronics, Cree, Inc. has introduced what it says is the industry’s first fully-qualified commercial silicon carbide power MOSFET. Cree states that this establishes a new benchmark for energy efficient power switches and can enable design engineers to develop high voltage circuits with extremely fast switching speeds and ultralow switching losses.

The SiC MOSFET can be used today for solar inverters, high-voltage power supplies and power conditioning in many industrial power applications. The addition of the SiC power MOSFET to Cree’s world-class silicon carbide Schottky diode family enables power electronics design engineers to develop "all-SiC" implementations of critical high power switching circuits and systems with levels of energy efficiency, size and weight reduction that are not achievable with any commercially available silicon power devices of comparable ratings.

"This introduction of our SiC power MOSFET represents many years of materials research, process development and device design," said John Palmour, Cree co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Power and RF. "But the end result is that the industry’s first ’ideal’ high voltage switching device is no longer a future technology – it is commercially available and ready for design-in today. Together with our 600, 650, 1200 and 1700V SiC Schottky diodes, Cree Power has established a new class of SiC power components that are destined to lead the power semiconductor industry in the years to come, and eventually replace silicon devices in the majority of critical power electronics applications with breakdown voltage requirements of 1200V or higher."

Cree’s SiC MOSFET, the CMF20120D , provides blocking voltages up to 1200V with an on-state resistance (RDSon) of just 80mΩ at 25°C. Setting Cree’s SiC MOSFET apart from comparable silicon devices, the RDSon remains below 100mΩ across its entire operating temperature range. This consistency of performance characteristics across operating conditions, along with a true MOSFET device architecture (normally-off), makes it well suited for power electronics switching circuits. Compared to commercially available silicon MOSFET or IGBT devices of similar ratings, in tests conducted by Cree the CMF20120D had the lowest gate drive energy (QG <100nC) across the recommended input voltage range. Conduction losses were minimized with forward drop (VF) of <2V at a current of 20A.

Cree states that the CMF20120D SiC MOSFET provides significant advantages over silicon devices, enabling unprecedented system efficiency and/or reduced system size, weight and cost through its higher frequency operation. It can meet or beat silicon MOSFET switching speeds and reduce switching losses in many applications by up to 50%.

Compared to the best silicon IGBTs, the Cree states that the device improves system efficiency up to 2% and operates at 2-3 times the switching frequencies. Higher component efficiency also results in lower operating temperatures. Combining these lower operating temperatures with the CMF20120D’s ultra-low leakage current (99%.

Similar efficiency benefits can be achieved in other applications that require high blocking voltages in combination with fast, efficient switching, such as industrial motor drives, high power dc data center power architectures, PFC (power factor correction), boost and high frequency dc-dc conversion circuits in industrial, and computing and communications power systems. In addition to potential efficiency gains, the low switching losses of Cree’s SiC MOSFETs and diodes can enable design optimization at switching frequencies up to three times those built with commercially available silicon devices.