ROHM Semiconductor presented its cutting-edge silicon carbide (SiC) technology at the first race of the new 2016/2017 Formula E season in Hong Kong. At the start of season three, the leading Japanese semiconductor manufacturer started sponsoring and officially partnering with the Venturi Formula E team. The exciting collaboration between ROHM and Venturi in Formula E highlights the key to success in the all-electric racing series – power management.
The challenge of Formula E is to find the most efficient way of using the energy provided by the battery and applying it on the road. To do this, ROHM developed new power device technology using silicon carbide. This material can withstand much higher electric fields than conventional silicon, which results in extremely low losses of power and higher temperature resistance. Thus, ROHM and Venturi hope to gain an edge over the competition while also pushing forward the development of new technical solutions to increase power conversion efficiency.
The inverter for season three features embedded SiC Schottky diodes, making it 2 kg lighter than the inverter for season two. Electric efficiency has been increased by 1.7%, while the volume of heat extraction components has been reduced by 30%. But this is just a start. In season four, the SiC MOSFET integrated inverter will demonstrate drastic changes once again.
According to Maro Engel, Formula E driver on the Venturi Formula E team, “For us at Venturi, particularly for me as a driver, the technical partnership we have with ROHM is very important. The silicon carbide technology that ROHM has introduced and which we will be using in our cars from the start of this season allows us to successfully manage the heat being produced, therefore enabling greater engine power and ultimately better lap times.”
Dr. Kazuhide Ino, General Manager of the Power Device Division at ROHM said “We are looking forward to proving the quality and efficiency of our products on the circuit. By making more economical technologies available for a wide array of industries and larger parts of society, we hope to take a prominent role in revolutionizing energy policy.”
In the automotive sector, an increasing number of EVs and inverters are adopting the use of SiC, and ROHM has already had an overwhelming market share of on-board chargers for rapid charging. ROHM is also an industry leader in system LSI, with a large lineup of AEC-Q-approved ASIC and ASSP products, including LED drivers, motor drivers and gate drivers optimized for engine control units (ECUs), as well as standard discrete components such as transistors, diodes, and general ICs. Bringing SiC technology to Formula E and to e-mobility in general is an important step in changing drive technology.