Microsemi Corp of Aliso Viejo, CA, USA (which makes chips for aerospace & defense, communications, data-center and industrial markets) has become a member of PowerAmerica — a manufacturing institute consisting of public and private representatives from the semiconductor industry, the US Department of Energy (DoE), national laboratories and academia — to accelerate the commercialization and adoption of wide-bandgap semiconductors. Microsemi has also been awarded a contract as part of PowerAmerica’s $70m backing from the DoE over five years, allocated to promoting the adoption of components made with silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) into a wide range of products and systems.
Microsemi’s role at PowerAmerica will be specifically focused on supporting the commercialization of 1.7kV and 3.3kV SiC MOSFETs and SiC Schottky diodes as it develops next-generation devices. With key benefits including higher efficiency, high temperature/voltage operational stability, better power handling and smaller form factors, the 1.7kV and 3.3kV devices are targeted at expanding the number of applications where SiC technology can be used. Suitable for the industrial and aerospace markets, as well as the defense market where US-based suppliers are necessary, target applications include automotive electrification, railways (traction), aerospace actuation systems, power generation and distribution, solar inverters, motor drive and electromagnetic railgun.
“Our investment in this technology has been recognized by PowerAmerica’s leadership,” says Leon Gross, VP & business unit manager for Microsemi’s Power Discretes and Modules business unit. “As one of the limited number of suppliers serving this market, Microsemi looks forward to providing cost-effective state-of-the-art 1.7kV and 3.3kV SiC devices with the ability for quick high-volume scale up via a 6-inch foundry with short lead times, ultimately leading to faster design cycles for customers,” he adds.
Microsemi says that working with Power America allows it to extend its ability to offer the same high-level system integration it provides in aerospace applications with its intelligent power solutions (IPS) such as the power core module (PCM) and hybrid power drive (HPD). PowerAmerica brings the leading wide-bandgap semiconductor manufacturers, material providers and end-users together with experts from research universities and government agencies not only to reduce the cost, but also to improve the performance and reliability of wide-bandgap devices and the systems that incorporate SiC and GaN technologies. As a member of the institution, Microsemi has access to as many as 11 university research programs, three federal collaborators and over 10 startups committed to growing wide-bandgap technology.
“Microsemi’s six decades of experience developing high-reliability semiconductor solutions, combined with its continuing commitment to innovate, lead and adapt to a rapidly changing landscape, will help accelerate the adoption of SiC in the power electronics industry,” comments PowerAmerica’s deputy executive director & chief technology officer Victor Veliadis Ph.D. “PowerAmerica is proud to join forces with Microsemi to transition its 1.7kV SiC process to high-volume ramp and develop 3.3kV devices which are critical for traction and high-voltage direct current (HVDC) grid applications.”
The SiC power device market is rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38% from 2015 to about $1.4bn in 2021, forecasts market research firm IHS Markit Technology. With SiC MOSFETs and diodes offering superior dynamic and thermal performance over conventional silicon power devices, the benefits of SiC are influencing the development of new end-products, it adds.
Microsemi says that key features of its 1.7kV and 3.3kV SiC devices will include:
- high reliability at 175°C;
- AEC-Q101 qualification;
- specific Rds(on) targeted to be less than 7milli-Ohm.cm2 for the 1.7kV MOSFETs (the lowest among available products on the market);
- avalanche energy rating (UIS) of over 15J/cm2 (making the device highly rugged for industrial and automotive applications and the highest known UIS rating for any 1.7kV SiC MOSFET currently available);
- short-circuit withstand time (SCWT) of ~5μs (the longest for devices in the 1.7kV class currently), ensuring safe operation/shut-off under fault conditions.
Microsemi says that its existing portfolio of SiC products offers advantages including improved system efficiency with 25-50% power output increases for the same physical dimensions, efficiency at higher switching frequencies over insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs), reduced system size and weight, operating stability over temperature (+175°C) and significant cooling cost savings.