Silicon Carbide (SiC) is a wide bandgap material. Wide bandgap technologies have many advantages compared to Silicon. Operating temperatures are higher, heat dissipation is improved and switching and conduction losses are lower. However, wide bandgap materials are more difficult to mass produce compared to silicon based ones.
Silicon Carbide properties
The Silicon Carbide Advantages
Higher Performance & Voltage Operation
- Extremely low power losses
- Intrinsic SiC body diode (MOSFET) (4 quadrant operation)
- Faster and more robust than silicon
- Smaller Die Size for equivalent breakdown voltage
- More Energy Efficient
- High thermal conductivity
Higher Operating Frequency
- Lower switching losses, excellent diode switching performance
- Smaller, Lighter Systems
Higher Operating Temperature
- Operating up to 200°C junction
- Reduces Cooling requirements and hence allows for lighter systems with increased lifetime
Easy to Drive
ST and Silicon Carbide
ST has been working with Silicon Carbide since 1996. Introducing a new technology in a semiconductor market demanding high quality, long lifecycles at competitive costs is demanding. ST overcame the challenges of the industrialization of this wide bandgap material and started to produce its first SiC diodes in 2004. In 2009 ST started to produce its first SiC MOSFETs and since then we have added 1200V versions of both SiC MOSFETs and power Schottky diodes to complement the original 650V versions.
The supply chain for SiC is becoming more robust, the cost of the basic material is decreasing as supplier competition increases. ST has worked hard on the quality of the material and process improvement. As the material and the products based upon SiC technology became more robust ST created automotive-grade SiC power devices that are becoming a key enabler in vehicle electrification.
ST’s 6” SiC wafer production started in 2017, with the ramp-up of production helping to drive down costs and increase supply for the ever increasing list of SiC applications, including more solar inverters, industrial motor drives, home appliances, and power adapters.