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Microsemi awarded contract for adoption of Silicon Carbide technology

22nd August 2017
Lanna Cooper

Provider of semiconductor solutions differentiated by power, security, reliability and performance, Microsemi has announced it has become a member of PowerAmerica - a manufacturing institute comprised of public and private representatives from the semiconductor industry, the US Department of Energy, national laboratories and academia - to accelerate the commercialisation and adoption of wide band gap semiconductors.

Microsemi was awarded a contract as part of PowerAmerica’s $70m dollar backing from the US Department of Energy over five years, allocated to promoting the adoption of advanced semiconductor 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-gen devices. With key benefits to include higher efficiency, high temperature/voltage operational stability, better power handling and smaller form factors, the 1.7kV and 3.3kV devices will expand the number of applications where SiC technology can be used. Ideal for the industrial and aerospace markets, as well as the defense market where US-based suppliers are necessary, target applications for the devices include automotive electrification, railway application (traction), aerospace actuation systems, power generation and distribution, solar inverters, motor drive and electromagnetic railgun.

“We are pleased our leadership in the SiC market as well as our investment in this technology have been recognised by PowerAmerica’s leadership, and we are excited to leverage our expertise as we collaborate with this talented consortium,” said Leon Gross, Vice President and 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 1.7kV and 3.3kV SiC devices with the ability for quick high volume scale up via a 6" foundry with short lead times, ultimately leading to faster design cycles for customers.”

Working with Power America allows Microsemi 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 wide band gap semiconductor manufacturers, material providers and end-users together with experts from top research universities and government agencies not only to reduce the cost, but also to improve the performance and reliability of wide band gap 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 programmes, three federal collaborators and over ten startups committed to growing wide band gap technology with an emphasis on building technology in the US workforce.

“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,” said Victor Veliadis, Ph.D., Deputy Executive Director and Chief Technology Officer of PowerAmerica. “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.”

According to market research firm IHS Markit Technology, the SiC power device market is forecast to reach approximately $1.4bn in 2021, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 38% from 2015 to 2021. The firm also describes how the benefits of SiC are influencing the development of new end products. Microsemi is well-positioned with these trends, with its SiC MOSFETs and diodes offering superior dynamic and thermal performance over conventional Silicon power devices, among other advantages.

Key features of Microsemi’s 1.7kV and 3.3kV SiC devices will include:

  • Highly reliable at 175°C
  • AEC-Q101 qualified
  • Specific Rds (on) targeted to be less than 7 mohm.cm2 for the 1.7kV MOSFETs, the lowest known among available products in 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 available today
  • Short circuit withstand time (SCWT) of ~5us, the longest for devices in the 1.7kV class today, ensuring safe operation/shut-off under fault conditions

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