2018 Will be a SiC Year

Jason Lomberg, North American Editor, PSD



We’ve been playing soothsayer a lot lately, but if you strolled the halls of the Henry B. González Convention Center at APEC 2018, one theme was absolutely inescapable – the ubiquity of silicon carbide (SiC). 2018 should be its coming-out party.

Nearly every company we visited chatted up the magnitude of silicon carbide, and SiC was of primary import, directly or indirectly. No fewer than seven APEC PSDtv videos (shameless plug) focus specifically on this chemical compound that occurs in nature as the rare mineral moissanite (which you know as a cheaper substitute for diamonds, amongst other, more useful applications).

Here’s a brief overview of the very SiC-centric APEC 2018:

Starting with the company named after this compound semiconductor, United Silicon Carbide discussed their new 3rd-generation 650 volt SiC FET Technology, released during APEC. Their SiC portfolio comes in about six varieties in various mA and package configurations, and designers can remove a silicon superjunction FET or IGBT and replace with USC’s device, resulting in higher efficiencies.

Meanwhile, Texas Instruments describes how their SiC solutions can reduce carbon emissions, and TI’s Nagarajan Sridhar – who previously came aboard the PSDcast to discuss this same topic (shameless plug #2) – details how their 10 kW solar inverter and AC-DC charger (both of which utilize SiC technology) can reduce our carbon footprint.

Wolfspeed (a Cree company) showed off two demos which covered how their silicon carbide MOSFETs and diodes can enable onboard capability for the next generation of electric vehicles. This includes a 20 kW system designed for off-board charging, and they discussed the advantages of using a SiC active front end (AFE) over Si-based solutions.

Dean Technology was a perfect example of just how ubiquitous SiC was at the Applied Power Electronics Conference – if it wasn’t in a company’s name or the primary focus of their booth demos, SiC inevitably showed up in their product portfolios. Dean Technology gave a brief overview of their proprietary high voltage components, which includes diodes, capacitors, selenium sulfates, and metal oxide and silicon carbide varistors, among others.

Apex Microtechnology discussed their SiC switching amplifier module, unique because it includes the gate driver inside the package. The company showed off an example of the package, which was approximately the size of a penny.

Next up, Littelfuse gave us a short update on their SiC MOSFET portfolio, which included two devices for the 1200 V platform, and company rep Michael Ketterer aptly described SiC as a “state of the art” technology that’s becoming standard for the power industry.

Last, but certainly not least, ROHM Semiconductor demonstrated a neat Olympic-themed shotput launcher, buoyed by ROHM’s high-power SiC half-bridge power module. Just in terms of showmanship, this might’ve been one of the coolest demos at APEC.

We highly recommend you check out our APEC PSDtv videos at powersystemsdesign.com/pages/psdtv/81, and be sure to catch our SiC-themed PSDcast here: powersystemsdesign.com/articles/psdcast-using-silicon-carbide-to-reduce-carbon-emissions/67/12703