Showa Denko (SDK) will next month launch silicon carbide (SiC) epitaxial wafers with a diameter of six inches (150mm)—the largest size currently available on the world market—for use in power devices.
The company will also start selling next month a new grade of four-inch (100mm) SiC epitaxial wafers with fewer defects and higher uniformity.
SDK has so far been producing and selling three-inch (76.2mm) and four-inch SiC epitaxial wafers. In addition, SDK has worked to develop the next-generation six-inch SiC epitaxial wafers that will lead to increased productivity, providing samples since the beginning of this year. As the volume production technology has been established and the product specifications have been prepared, the company has decided to begin commercial shipments as from October.
When compared with the mainstream silicon-based semiconductors, SiC power devices using SiC epitaxial wafers can operate under high-temperature, high-voltage, and heavy-current conditions, while substantially reducing energy loss. These features enable the production of smaller, lighter, and more efficient power control modules. SiC power devices are therefore expected to be in high demand for use in inverters (devices for converting direct current into alternating current) for automobiles, railcars, and industrial/home electric appliances.
Inverters based on SiC power devices are already used in such applications as power sources of servers for data centers, distributed power supply systems for new energies, and subway railcars. The new six-inch SiC epitaxial wafers will help reduce power-device production costs, and promote volume production of SiC power devices with current capacity amounting to as much as 100A. Thus, SiC-power-device-based inverters are expected to be increasingly used in electric vehicles and hybrid cars.
Following the expansion of product lines, SDK will continue its efforts to improve product quality and increase production capacity. SDK is planning to increase its SiC epitaxial wafer production capacity from 1,500 units a month (in terms of four-inch wafers) at present, to 2,500 units a month by the middle of 2014, contributing to the spread of SiC power devices.