Silicon carbide reaches tipping point says Infineon

May 16, 2017 // By Nick Flaherty
The EASY 1B module is only just entering mass production after a year
Silicon carbide has reached the tipping point says Infineon as it starts mass production of its first full module a year after launch.

SiC provides higher efficiency, increased power density, smaller footprints and reduced system costs, says Dr Peter Wawer, Division President Industrial Power Control from Infineon at the PCIM show in Nuremberg. The Easy 1B module was launched at the same show last year, but only now is it “gradually” entering volume production. Infineon was hit by its failed acquisition of SiC specialist Wolfspeed from Cree earlier this year.

“Silicon carbide has reached a tipping point: Taking cost-benefit analysis into account, it is ready for use in a variety of applications,” said Wawer. “In order to make the new semiconductor technology a revolution to rely on, however, it needs a partner like Infineon. Products tailored to the application, our own production capacities, comprehensive technology portfolio and system understanding: these four building blocks have made us the market leader for power semiconductors. We want and will also achieve this with our SiC product portfolio."

The module uses new 1200 V SiC MOSFETs with dynamic losses that are ten times lower than silicon IGBTs. The first products are aimed at applications such as photovoltaic inverters, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and charging/storage systems, and will enable new designs of industrial drives, medical technology or auxiliary power supplies in trains.

One major advantage of the trench technology with the 1200 V SiC MOSEFT lies in an extended robustness says Wawer. This is due to the lower failure in time (FIT) rate and the short-circuit capability, which can be configured for different applications. The 4V threshold voltage and the recommended switch-on threshold of +15 V means the transistors can be controlled like an IGBT and safely switched off in the event of a fault. The technology also offers an easy adjustability of the transients via gate series resistors to minimise the impact of EMI.