The commercial availability of larger-diameter SiC substrates and improved crystalline quality has fostered an ever-increasing interest in the development and manufacture of power electronic devices, exploiting the unique electrical and thermophysical properties of this wide-bandgap semiconductor material. Silicon carbide (SiC) isn’t a new material, but its use as a semiconductor substrate is helping to advance power electronics and high-frequency electronics applications.
Silicon carbide is a compound semiconductor material, synthesized by combining silicon and carbon, both from group IV of the periodic table. It has superior properties relative to silicon, in terms of handling higher voltages and temperatures. These increased capabilities give SiC-based chips the ability to do tremendous work in small chip sizes. In addition, SiC can switch efficiently at incredible speeds.
Today, as markets and applications push toward the ‘electrification of everything,’ the need for devices made from SiC is accelerating. The electric vehicle (EV) industry is literally driving the transition from traditionally used silicon-based power electronic devices to SiC, but other industries also benefit from the material.
Power conversion systems used in other transport applications including electrified rail, shipping and aircraft; renewable energy applications including solar photovoltaics and wind energy; and industrial/commercial applications such as server power supplies, UPS for data centers, motor drives and medical imaging systems, all benefit from high-voltage and high-efficiency devices made from SiC. The high-frequency devices used in 5G telecommunication systems, such as repeater stations, digital TV, radars and optoelectronic devices, also drive the adoption of SiC material.