The Zhenghai and ROHM have agreed to form a joint venture and create a new power module company. The new company, branded “HAIMOSIC,” will be established in China in December 2021, with the Zhenghai Group’s Shanghai Zhenghai Semiconductor Technology (Zhenghai Semiconductor) owning 80% and ROHM owning 20%. The new company will enter into a partnership to develop, design, manufacture, and sell power modules that use silicon carbide (SiC) power devices, with the intention of developing a power module business that can be used in traction inverters and other new energy vehicle applications.
“The new firm will design, mass-produce, and sell power modules that use ROHM’s SiC semiconductors.” In an interview with Power Electronics News, Travis Moench, Senior Director of Sales at ROHM Semiconductor USA, said, “The business wants to produce power modules suited for traction inverters with a focus on the new energy vehicle market in China.”
“ROHM has great prospects for sales expansion through chip supply, as well as for SiC power device adoption and wider use,” he added. The high-efficiency SiC power modules from HAIMOSIC will play a key role in promoting the use of SiC power devices in new energy vehicles, which are gaining traction.
Through the development and widespread use of SiC power modules, Zhenghai Group and ROHM will collaborate closely with this new company to contribute to further technical progress.
What’s Next for SiC
Power devices for high-voltage applications, such as electric vehicles (EVs), power supplies, motor control circuits, and inverters, are made using silicon carbide (SiC), a semiconductor material made up of silicon and carbon. SiC has several benefits over traditional silicon-based power devices like IGBTs and MOSFETs, which have long dominated the industry due to their cost-effectiveness and ease of manufacture.
According to ROHM, there are high expectations for SiC power devices in various markets. “We believe it is important to provide a stable supply of products that meet market and customer needs. In addition to contributing to energy conservation through the devices, it is important to propose solutions that include peripheral components such as control ICs (gate drivers) to drive the devices and power discrete devices. ROHM is also providing extensive design support for these components. In addition to providing evaluation and simulation tools, we are accelerating the development of joint laboratories (Power Labs) with users,” said Moench.
The objective is to develop next-generation SiC devices with the best performance-to-cost ratio possible. Cost optimization is still required due to the volume and competitiveness of IGBTs, and it will be critical to optimize the wafer manufacturing stages to accommodate ever-increasing production volumes. Two of the most significant roadblocks are time and the quality of raw silicon carbide wafers, which frequently contain crystal structural flaws that reduce yield. It directly impacts the cost of the gadgets, and pricing is always a major factor in the adoption of any new technology.
“Over the past 10-20 years, the main challenges of SiC have shifted significantly from performance (demonstrating clear advantages over Si devices), to reliability (passing industrial and automotive qualification, identifying and mitigating special failure modes), to cost (from serving a niche market to achieving cost effectiveness for a wide range of applications). At this time, cost is the main remaining barrier for many potential applications that could have adopted SiC to improve system performance and power density. But this is getting better every year, especially after SiC has proven to offer great system value for EV power converters (onboard chargers and traction inverters). As global market demand increases rapidly, SiC device production efficiency is vastly improved through larger wafer diameters and other supply chain advantages. This momentum will eventually enable SiC to overtake Si for 600V+ power devices in a much wider application space, step by step,” said Moench
Because they provide a variety of appealing qualities as compared to frequently used silicon, silicon carbide (SiC) devices are rapidly being employed in high-voltage power converters with rigorous size, weight, and efficiency requirements (Si). On-state resistance and switching losses are significantly reduced, while SiC has nearly 3 times the thermal conductivity of silicon, allowing components to dissipate heat more quickly. This is significant because, as Si-based devices shrink in size, extracting heat created by electrical conversion processes becomes more difficult, while SiC dissipates heat more effectively.
SiC offers significant advantages in automotive applications over traditional silicon-based devices, including better power density, higher system efficiency, range extension, cheaper system cost, and long-term dependability.
The efficiency of an electric car’s powertrain and energy management system is directly proportional to the efficiency of its engine and energy management system. Furthermore, critical infrastructures, such as solid-state fast-charging systems capable of hundreds of kilowatts of power, must comply to strict size and efficiency limits.
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