There is a huge demand in the market for high power electronic devices enabled by wide band semiconductors such as gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon carbide (SiC). The device manufacturers are looking forward to increase the size of GaN and SiC wafers and also realize the volume production to reduce the cost of manufacturing. The small fabless companies are gaining heavy traction from the foundries to produce high power electronic devices at lower cost. The current trend suggest that foundries are making investment in small fabless companies to reduce their production cost. These initiatives suggest high growth potential of high power electronics or wide band semiconductors. The stakeholder initiative in wide band semiconductors for an electric vehicle is captured and showcased below.
Siemens has developed a method to build frequency converters that use SiC diodes. They have succeeded in increasing the power of frequency converters by approximately 10% with the help of this new technique.
Transphorm has introduced a new type of gallium nitride with high electron mobility transistor that has a breakdown voltage of 600 volts and a power quad flat with no lead package of 8×8 square millimeters.
Panasonic has developed a GaN transistor by manufacturing normally-off gate injection transistors on a silicon substrate using a cost-effective method.
Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology has introduced a new design based on GaN for monolithic light emitting diodes that can increase luminescence efficiency across a wide spectral range and offer high-intensity emission.
ST Microelectronics is trying to integrate MOSFETs and a new generation rectifiers in the electric vehicle electric block for high voltage power modules. This also includes an onboard battery charger, traction inverter, and DC-DC converter.
Microsemi has joined US Power America initiative to develop GaN and SiC power semiconductors for 1.7 and 3.3 kV devices. The special focus would be on the development of SiC MOSFET and SiC Schottky Diodes.
For manufacturing GaN system, BMW I Ventures has invested $37m. The focus of the investment is to identify the alternative for silicon-based transistors and generate miniaturized GaN-based transistors.
The collaboration between University of Notre Dame, Cornell University and Semiconductor Company IQE was able to successfully develop power diodes based in GaN to serve as the building blocks for the power switches.
The collaboration between Kettering University’s Advanced Power Electronics Lab, HELLA and GaN system was able to successfully develop a Level 2 prototype for an electric vehicle charging station.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology was able to successfully design a GaN power device which has the capability to handle 1200 volts. The researchers are working towards bringing the same efficiency in the electric grid itself to reduce the power loss while charging the electric vehicle.
In the APAC region, SiC and GaN research is high and it is expected to increase significantly in the near future. Various countries in the European Union such as Germany, Spain, France, and the UK have started performing laboratory-based research for SiC and GaN. New York is supporting the New York Power Electronics Manufacturing Consortium, which is a $500 million partnership of over 100 private companies including GE and IBM.
Small companies such as WINAICO, Transphorm Inc., Amantys, Anvil Semiconductors, PowerOasis, and Powervation have embarked on developing SiC devices for high power applications. Major companies have realized the potential of SiC and GaN-based devices and have also started developing products, notable among these are GE, Mitsubishi Electric, ABB and ST Microelectronics.