Silicon Carbide (SiC)
Silicon carbide for a more sustainable future
STMicroelectronics introduced its first SiC diodes in 2004, after several years of research and development on silicon carbide technology. SiC MOSFET were introduced in 2009 and entered mass production in 2014. Today, ST’s portfolio of medium- and high-voltage power products based on SiC technology is among the widest in the industry.
ST is actively engaged in capacity expansion and development of a reliable and robust SiC supply chain able to meet demand growth and ensure continuity through extended longevity programs. ST manufactures its SiC products to the highest standards to ensure reliable performance and efficiency gains for electric vehicle (EV) applications, solar inverters, energy storage, industrial motor drives, and power supplies. Our technology exceeds industrial and automotive application standards and is preparing to target more extreme aerospace applications.
ST recently completed qualification of its third-generation SiC technology platform. Planar MOSFETs based on this platform set new industry-leading benchmarks for transistor efficiency, power density, and switching performance. First products are now commercially available.
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The advantages of SiC power devices
Power devices based on silicon carbide offer various key benefits over conventional silicon devices. Their higher voltage and higher frequency capabilities allow greater system efficiency, faster switching, lower losses, and better thermal management. Ultimately, SiC devices allow smaller and lighter power designs featuring higher power density.
SiC for electric mobility
SiC power devices find application in critical power systems inside electric vehicles, including traction inverters, on-board chargers and in the DC/DC conversion stage. They also provide significant and efficiency gains in charging stations. With respect to their silicon-based counterparts, SiC devices offer the following advantages:
- Over 600 km driving range on an average EV
- 150 to 200 kg less weight on an average EV
- Double the energy from a charging station
- Longer battery lifetime due to lower stress
SiC for industrial power and drives
SiC devices benefit industrial applications from motors and robots to various other factory automation systems, as well as in power supplies for servers and solar energy conversion systems. For industrial contexts, SiC devices can deliver the following benefits with respect to silicon-based devices:
- 50% lower power losses
- Ability to run at five times the frequency
- 50% reduction in system size and weight
- 20% reduction in total cost of ownership
SiC-based power devices can operate at up to 200°C junction temperature (limited only by the package), which reduces cooling requirements and allows more compact, more reliable, and more robust solutions. Existing designs can incorporate the performance and efficiency benefits of SiC devices without major changes, allowing fast development turnaround while keeping the BOM to a minimum.
The performance of wide-bandgap materials
Silicon carbide is a wide-bandgap material that exhibits many intrinsic advantages over conventional silicon.