SiC, GaN: mind the Bandgap

By Anne-Francoise Pelé for PowerElectronicsNews – In recent years, wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductors such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) have been receiving considerable attention. Both these compounds can sustain higher frequencies, higher voltages, and more complex electronics products than silicon. The adoption of SiC and GaN power devices is now undeniable, and questions are more related to the breadth of opportunities available for companies.

Ezgi Dogmus, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole Développement (Lyon, France), presents her analysis on the WBG market evolution and forecast in specific emerging markets such as automotive and consumer applications.

Power Electronics News: At Yole Développement, you are part of the semiconductor and emerging materials activity and cover SiC, GaN, gallium arsenide, indium phosphide, as well as emerging trends such as gallium oxide, diamonds, and engineering substrates. What are today’s trends and market opportunities for WBG semiconductors?

Dogmus: E-mobility has become a mega-trend with a significant impact on semiconductor and power electronics businesses. Over the years, there has been an accelerated development of vehicle electrification. That was fostered by events such as the Tesla effect, the Dieselgate, the ban of diesel cars in some regions and cities, reduced cost of the battery, and incentives for zero-emission vehicles in countries like China. In the meantime, many governments have strengthened their carbon dioxide reduction targets. This acceleration has surprised most of the traditional players who weren’t ready.

PEN: Will electric vehicles (EVs) take over the roads?

Dogmus: We have observed a strong enrollment from OEMs with more than $300 billion of investments over the last years. At Yole, we forecast an impressive market growth with more than 25 million EVs by 2024.

PEN: What’s the impact on the WBG semiconductor adoption, especially on SiC, in the next few years?

Dogmus: SiC is adapted for high power density and high-efficiency applications such as the  focal inverter. Today, powertrain applications are indeed significantly driving the SiC market.

In EVs, one of the most  vital parameters is the driving range, and we have identified three main approaches where SiC can help extend the driving range. Most contemporary electric cars operate with 400-V batteries, and the first approach brings us back to Tesla’s decision in 2018 to replace silicon IGBT by SiC MOSFETs in the Model 3 core inverter. In that case, SiC has enabled higher efficiency and a smaller form factor at the inverter level.

The second and third approaches are more related to the new trend towards large-capacity batteries to increase the driving range. To date, only Porsche’s Taycan  is a commercially available vehicle with an 800-V battery. And to increase the voltage level of the electrical circuitry, Toyota’s Prius uses a 600-V boost converter.

These two high-voltage platforms  are great opportunities for 1,200-volt SiC adoption in major inverters, and significantly accelerate the growth of SiC in the EV/HEV market… Full interview


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