This year seems to have gone faster than a Tesla in ludicrous mode. We all wondered when the year started if this would be the year that SiC and GaN technologies made the breakthrough into the mainstream, and turned out that, yes it was. GaN especially looks to have taken a major leap forward and we’ll hopefully see the benefits of the technology in a much wider range of products next year. SiC didn’t get quite as much attention, but in the areas that it excels, it has been making strong inroads, predominantly in power generation, distribution and automotive applications.
That doesn’t mean that SiC is having things all its own way in these areas. Developers of silicon solutions are also innovating to provide solutions for their industries. The internal combustion engine has had well over a century of refinement to get to where we are today. Electrically driven automobiles were actually invented around the same time as the internal combustion engine, but lost the race to become the dominant technology. As such, very little work has been done on the electrical automotive vehicles until fairly recently. But, because of the pressure to go carbon neutral, manufacturers are developing both purely electrically driven vehicles, and hybrid vehicles that use both electrical power as well as burning fossil fuels.
This demand has put a lot of pressure on designers of electrical equipment to innovate quickly to improve the performance these vehicles. Led by Tesla, technology has come on leaps and bounds over the last decade, and this trend is set to continue as manufacturers try to meet stringent demands placed on them by national governments. Electrical vehicles don’t have the same range as combustion engineered vehicles, and until they do, their adoption will be limited at best. Automotive manufacturers are looking for innovation from suppliers in all areas of vehicle design – from better batteries, to a more efficient conversion and drivetrain system and making the vehicle lighter while retaining full performance and safety. It’s not just on the vehicle that electric vehicle manufacturers are looking for savings, they also need faster charging so that when the vehicle reaches its range limit, it can get back on the road quickly. Again, Tesla has led in charging technology with the company’s superchargers, but even though they have pretty good specifications, they still require drivers to wait for quite long times at the charging station. In the issue, we’ll look at how some manufacturers see how savings can be made with different power topologies and more efficient components.
Next year is set to be another major year for the power electronics industry, and we’ll be here to update you all the way. I hope you all have a lovely Christmas break and I wish you a happy new year.
European Editor, PSD