The Ongoing Promise of Wide Bandgap Devices

Kevin Parmenter, Director, Applications Engineering. TSC, America



Kevin Parmenter, Director, Applications Engineering. TSC, America

The global wide bandgap semiconductor (WBGS) market is experiencing significant growth. Valued at $1.6 billion in 2022, this market is projected to reach $5.4 billion by 2032, growing at a CAGR of 13.2% from 2023, according to Allied Market Research. I notice that every power conference in recent years talks about this market growth, although estimates vary widely between low growth to more than the GNP of many countries. I am inclined to believe that the allied market research projection is realistic.

That covers market economics. From the perspective of technology and application benefits, wide bandgap devices have remarkable capabilities. Whether silicon carbide (SiC) or gallium nitride (GaN), WBG devices provide superior performance compared to traditional silicon-based semiconductors. A primary driver behind the growth of the market is WBG device’s ability to operate at higher voltages, frequencies and temperatures while maintaining efficiency.

The unique characteristic of improving power efficiency and reliability versus alternative approaches has found WBGS applications across diverse sectors. In the automotive industry, WBGS plays a pivotal role in the development of electric and HEV vehicles. These semiconductors enable efficient power management, reducing energy loss during the conversion process. Moreover, their capability to withstand higher temperatures ensures reliable performance in the demanding automotive environment. The merchant power supply and charger-adapter-POE market can also benefit from WBG devices in designs.

The power electronics industry has embraced WBG devices for their ability to handle higher voltages and frequencies with reduced energy losses. This has led to the development of more efficient power converters and inverters, facilitating the integration of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power into the grid. Another significant sector that has capitalized on the advantages of WBGS is networking and telecom-datacom. The demand for high-speed data transmission and a more efficient telecom infrastructure has spurred their use in both RF power amplifiers as well as the power conversion systems that power the sites.

Furthermore, the ongoing push toward sustainability and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions has spurred WBG device adoption. The efficiency gains achieved by utilizing these semiconductors contribute significantly to energy conservation and a lower carbon footprint, aligning with global efforts towards a more sustainable future.

Not surprisingly, the market for wide bandgap semiconductors is seeing substantial investments in research and development. As manufacturers continue to enhance the production processes and scale up manufacturing capacities, the costs associated with WBGS are gradually decreasing, making them more accessible to a broader range of industries.

Looking ahead, wide bandgap semiconductors promise further advancements in power electronics, automotive technology, renewable energy integration, and telecommunications. As research progresses and economies of scale are achieved, WBG devices and packaging innovations are likely to become even more prevalent, revolutionizing various industries and shaping the technological landscape for years to come.