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GT Advanced Technologies opened and filled a new facility in Hudson with crystal furnaces from their former location in Merrimack. The objective? Start production of SiC wafers and target the growing Silicon Carbide devices market driven by new Power Electronics applications.

GT Advanced Technologies is well known to have been driven close to bankruptcy after a dangerous deal with Apple on Sapphire supply in 2015. The company is now reborn. The CEO, Greg Knight, announced its almost a completely new structure, that kept the former name. The engineering and finance team stayed, and found a new site for SiC production. According to M. Knight, they have the experience from the past, of installing, ramping up and running thousands of furnaces, so they will ramp up very quickly.

The objective is to be ready as a leading supplier for the Silicon Carbide market boom to come in 2021 or 2022. The process is based on GT Advanced Technologies ‘SiClone’ sublimation furnace and SiC seeds.

They also want to reduce cost, with six inch wafers at 1000$ in a near future.

Source

 

[Update 02/07/2018: We know the packaging manufacturer and added the name to the article. Devices used are  650V SiC MOSFETs and not 1200V, as stated at first. Update 09/07/2018: Packaging supply chain has been further described.]

Tesla Model 3 is using Silicon Carbide MOSFETs for its main inverter. It is now confirmed from reverse engineering analyses from different expert companies (Munro Associates and System Plus Consulting).

From Si IGBT in TO-247 to SiC MOSFETs in molded package

PntPower missed an analyst publication from August 2017 stating that ST Microelectronics was selected as a main supplier for Tesla Model 3 thanks to its SiC MOSFET at 650V. ST Microelectronics, at the time, was among the most advanced companies in SiC MOSFETs with a 1200V device already available, but nothing confirmed that SiC MOSFETs would be used as main devices for Model 3 inverter. As a reminder we extensively searched and commented the use of IGBTs in TO-247 packages in Tesla’s previous cars: Roadster, Model S and Model X. This also confirms the technological jump and the serious willingness of Tesla to become a major manufacturer of electric cars. This kind of specific design and packaging in a car is similar to the evolution of Toyota in the Prius, in a quest to improve design, density and efficiency of the HEV’s best seller, year after year.

Plastic molding and Cu ribbon-bonding: The high standard for power devices packaging

It is now confirmed that Tesla has been integrating SiC MOSFET based power modules from ST Microelectronics in Model 3 inverter. The modules are molded modules using copper ribbon-bonding for MOSFET connection. The SiC devices seems to be a 650V MOSFET at 100A made in Catania Fab (Italy), though no Automotive grade device is listed on ST Microelectronics website. The module is also very close to the most advanced technologies used today in Power Electronics packaging for automotive industry. It is to be compared with Mitsubishi electric J series TPM modules, with a cooling pad at the bottom and connections pin on the top. Packaging design has been made by a packaging expert company, based in the Netherlands, and called Advanced Packaging Center. Packaging production should be done by ST Microelectronics and/or their usual subcontractors for packaging.

Model 3 Main Inverter – Featuring 24 SiC MOSFET modules from ST Microelectronics (Source: Munro Assoc.)

1 000 000 SiC MOSFETs on the road

Tesla Model 3 manufacturing prediction from Bloomberg reach 38000 units as we speak (end of June 2018). 24 SiC MOSFET modules are used in each Model 3 inverter, this represents almost 1 Million ST Micro’s SiC MOSFETs on our roads. We will let the reader calculate the market it represents by putting its own price estimation on ST Micro’s modules.

Infineon will probably catch-up and quickly become a second source for Model 3 production in order to secure the supply-chain and follow the production ramp-up roadmap announced by Elon Musk.

Tesla made a technological jump between Model S and Model 3. It seems that Model S Power Electronic’s design objective was to quickly fulfill the power and performance requirements with off-the-shelf and available technology. On the other side, Model 3 designers might be more looking at mass-production and design and density optimization. It’s a clear sign that the Electric Vehicles market is starting to take the lead in Power Electronics innovation.

Kyoto based semiconductor manufacturer ROHM, plans a new production building at its Apollo plant in Chikugo, Japan. The expanded production capacity is intended to meet the growing demand for silicon carbide (SiC) power devices.

The global SiC market is forecasted to exceed $1bn by 2021. The largest share comprises power supply applications, such as PV inverters, EV fast chargers and on-board chargers among other main power electronics applications.

Rohm started mass production of SiC power devices:  Schottky diodes and MOSFETs, in 2010. It’s the first supplier to produce complete SiC power modules and SiC trench MOSFETs. Rohm is considered as a Silicon Carbide leader in the Power Electronics world, where it was not a Silicon power devices (IGBT & MOSFET) leader.

Rohm SiC fab Apollo new builidng

The new three levels building at Apollo will increase production area by about 11,000m². Construction work is scheduled to begin in February 2019 and be completed by the end of 2020.

Source

Rohm semiconductor is part of the first manufacturers to have developed and release SiC MOSFET in volume production. In order to demonstrate the performance of their devices, they sponsor the Venturi racing team: A team involved electric race car championship Formula E.

They presented last week the latest improvements added to the Venturi race car. After 3 seasons, Rohm and Venturi managed to reduce the size and weight of the main inverter, step by step. The 220 kW inverter is the main power piece of the official FIA (Fédération International de L’Automobile) electric-powered race championship.

The 4th version of the inverter, to be used in 2018, is now 4 kg lighter and 30% smaller compared to the one used in 2017. It’s now weighting 9 kg.

Rohm step by step improvement of the main inverter for Venturi team electric car

Littelfuse is in the news again. The former protection system manufacturer is now more and more in the Power semiconductor manufacturing business. Last week it was about its acquisition of IXYS Corporation. Today, Littelfuse announced the release of their first Silicon Carbide based MOSFET.

LittelFuse Silicon Carbide SiC MOSFET

Courtesy of Littelfuse

This transistor is the first one born from the investments in Monolith Semiconductor (read here and here) that happened all along the last two years. This device is a 1200V and 25A MOSFET with an 80 mΩ On-Resistance. It’s beautifully named LSIC1MO120E0080 and will be available in TO-247-3L. Samples orders can already be placed at Littelfuse sales offices.

As for any other SiC MOSFET, it’s a major performance leap compared with Silicon, especially if it’s to be used for high frequency of switching applications.

Infineon Technologies AG has released the sixth and latest generation of its Silicon Carbide Schottky Diode. The first CoolSiC diodes (CoolSiC being Infineon Silicon Carbide product line name) was released in 2001. It was followed by 2nd generation in 2006, and so on until the 6th generation.

This CoolSiC G6 Diodes have a new layout, a new cell structure and a new metal contact design. Infineon does not provide more information about the design, apart this results in a claimed 17% lower figure of merit (Qc x Vf ).

They are available in 650V and from 4A to 20, in T0-220 real2pin packages.

Source: Infineon Technologies AG

Mitsubishi Electric was present during ICSCRM 2017 (International Conference on Silicon Carbide and Related Materials). They seized the opportunity to present one of their latest developments. In its SiC MOSFET, MELCO (Mitsubishi Electric Corporation) R&D team developed a new structure for the Source. Instead of a single region, there are now two region of different doping to better control the source series resistance. This structure reduces the current flow during short circuits.

MELCO claims that the On-Resistance is reduced by 40% at room temperature and power loss by 20%. These numbers are based on a comparison with conventional SiC MOSFET at 1200V.

Mitsubishi Electric SiC MOSFET source structure

Source: Mitsubishi Electric

This new device design also allows circuit simplification. Designers can now use Si short-circuit protection circuits and apply it to Silicon Carbide devices, without making any modifications. The Silicon Carbide MOSFET is dedicated to Power Modules.

Mitsubishi Electric’s development teams will further refine the new device, aiming to make it available commercially from the year 2020.

Source: Mitsubishi Electric

Ascatron is now a SiC devices company

Ascatron has announced the availability of Silicon Carbide (SiC) components using its in-house technology. The Swedish company raised founds last year in order to pivot. The business model is evolving from SiC epitaxy material manufacturing to a SiC device making. Their strategy to become an innovative SiC supplier is now on rails.

The spin-out from Acreo research center developed their own 3DSiC® technology in order to reach higher quality and performance, as they claimed. They have a semi-fabless business model, where SiC epitaxy is made in-house, in Sweden, and chip fabrication and packaging is outsourced.

Ascatron Diode SiC devices

Source: Ascatron

Available products

The first samples available are:

  • Diodes:
    • Schottky: 1200V – 15 A & 20 A
    • Schottky: 1700V – 20 A
    • PiN: 10kV – 2A

MOSFET devices are under development and will be available in 2018.

3DSiC® technology, based on Ascatron expertise in advanced SiC epitaxy material, has the potential to lower losses up to 30% compared to conventional solutions, says Ascatron.

Source: Press Release

Littelfuse keep going with its entry in the power semiconductor business. The company, which formerly was mainly involved in protection and passive components, is now about to acquire IXYS Corporation. The deal is estimated at $ 750 million in cash and actions.

This comes after an investment to take a majority stake in Monolith Semi, a leading Silicon Carbide power devices start-up, and the acquisition of a division of ON Semiconductor.

The most important acquisition in Littelfuse’s history:

IXYS Corporation is a pioneer of the power device manufacturer’s landscape. They focus on medium and high voltage components, producing IGBTs, Diodes, Thyristors, but also IGBT and MOSFET drivers, among other components in power, RF, power control and protection.

IXYS Corporation was created in 1983, and grew in different fields through acquisitions worldwide. The IXYS brand is recognized and declined worldwide according to each division and application: IXYS Power, IXYS RF, IXYS UK Westcode…

Littelfuse ixys acquisition strategy alignement applications

Extract from Littelfuse investor presentation.

Conquering the Power Electronics World:

This acquisition will help Littelfuse’s in a growth strategy:

  • Extend its footprint in the power semiconductor manufacturing business
  • Access to manufacturing capacity through IXYS fabs
  • Access to many new customers to propose Littelfuse next generation SiC devices (issue of a previous investment in Monolith Semi)

The final entity will realize annual sales of approximately $ 1,5 billion. Littelfuse can now be considered as a main player in the Power Semiconductor Field.

Littelfuse announced new 1200V Silicon Carbide diodes during PCIM 2017 last week, called GEN2. Littelfuse, which first focus was protection systems, is now fully entered in the power semiconductor world. This news adds to the recent additional investment in Monolith Semiconductor, a Silicon Carbide power devices start-up.

The diodes are the first to be produced using the Monolith Semiconductor partnership. According to Littelfuse, they offer enhanced surge capabilities, with a low leakage. These characteristics add to the usual performances of SiC diodes: higher junction temperature, higher efficiency and power density for boost converters.

Typical applications for these devices are power supplies with a PFC and freewheeling diodes in inverters. The main markets as of now are PV inverters, DC/DC converters, switch mode power supplies, some high-end UPS systems and motor drives.

GEN2 SiC diodes are available at 1200V and at 5 to 10A, in discrete packages.

SiC MOSFETs at 1200V should follow quickly, according to Littelfuse timeline.

Infineon, announced today they start mass production of the successful EASY 1B power module using their SiC MOSFET CoolSiC.

The EASY platform is widely used in the motor drive and industrial area, including hybrid and electric vehicles, HVAC, Pumps, DC/DC converters and on-board chargers. EASY platform has always been using latest Infineon IGBT technology. It’s now the first platform to propose a Silicon Carbide MOSFET option in mass production.

Infineon announced their SiC MOSFET technology last year at PCIM, after a long wait. They claimed to wait to have a reliable and easy to use technology. The CoolSiC is designed to be chip-to-chip replacable with an IGBT. They share the same driving voltages and characteristics. It’s probably not a good way to get the best performances but it surely facilitates the move to SiC technology by easing the work of designers.

As the biggest power semiconductor manufacturer, Infineon sets a new standard in pushing for SiC, at last.

The SiC version of EASY 1B will start with the B6 at 1200V: a six-pack full-bridge three phase design. EASY 2B with half-bridge and TO247 discrete components will also be available. This last part seems anecdotal, but let’s keep in mind that both Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X use Infineon’s TO247 IGBTs in the motor drive. The switch to Silicon Carbide in electric cars may be closer than we think.

 

Danfoss Silicon Power and General Electric announced they entered in an agreement this week. Danfoss is establishing a new production site for power modules. This was the opportunity for them to start the production of full SiC based power modules.

The collaboration between Danfoss Silicon Power and General Electric comes as part of the New York Power Electronics Manufacturing Consortium (NY-PEMC). The NY-PEMC is a private-public collaboration with an investment of USD 20 billions established in 2014. By early 2018, Danfoss will have a running production site for Silicon Carbide power modules in Utica, NY. GE will provide SiC MOSFET and Diodes from its own technology and production sites.

New York State will own the buildings and finance start up costs, as an effort to promote innovation. Danfoss Silicon Power will rent them to   the state of New York.

Video of Claus Petersen talking about this partnership

“Danfoss Silicon Power is gaining a unique position as the only independent SiC module manufacturer in the US and GE has been a customer from day one. Similarly, it has opened the door to the US market, where demand for the power modules manufactured by Danfoss Silicon Power is expected to grow explosively,”

says Claus A. Petersen, General Manager and Vice President of Danfoss Silicon Power.

Source