Strong basis for customer-specific power modules

11th June 2024
Paige West

CeramTec is launching a new product, Sinalit, just in time for this year's PCIM Europe trade fair for power electronics in Nuremberg, Germany.

The ceramics expert now includes a silicon nitride-based substrate in its product range, benefiting particularly automotive industry customers who require increasingly individualised power modules for electromobility and vehicle electrification.

Electric vehicles from car manufacturers are becoming more powerful, individual, and efficient, leading many OEMs to develop custom power modules. With Sinalit, CeramTec offers a silicon nitride (Si3N4) substrate that facilitates the implementation of bespoke solutions. In the Power Module system, it has low weight, high power density, and long service life. It is robust and can withstand adverse environmental conditions such as movement and pollutants. Another advantage is that Sinalit substrates can be produced very thinly. CeramTec also enables very tight external tolerances for customised power modules, ideal for confined installation spaces in electric or hybrid vehicles.

Optimally suited: silicon nitride

Silicon nitride is characterized by high flexural strength (≥ 700 MPa) and very high fracture toughness (≥ 6 MPa√m), making it extremely robust. The substrate can be made particularly thin at 0.25 or 0.32mm, with other thicknesses available on request. Another advantage of the substrate material is its good thermal conductivity (80W/mK), which, combined with the low thickness of the substrate, is important for quickly dissipating heat from power modules. The extreme robustness enables manufacturers to use thick copper metallization of 1mm on the Si3N4 substrate, opening new horizons for Active Metal Brazing (AMB) and Sputter Metal Bonding (SMB) applications. This allows for maximum current levels to be achieved with limited voltage levels in electrified vehicles.

CeramTec will present the new Si3N4 substrate Sinalit at PCIM Europe 2024 from 11th to 13th June in Nuremberg (Hall 7, Booth 540).

Three questions about the new Si3N4 substrate to Hans Ulrich Voeller, Senior Product Manager Substrates at CeramTec

What are the advantages of Sinalit for customers in the automotive sector?

With the further development of electromobility and vehicle electrification, customers are increasingly looking for specific solutions: Everyone wants a power module tailored to their manufacturer DNA. With Sinalit, we enable our customers to do just that: it is the perfect basis for customized power modules. They are no longer reliant on standard power modules.

What are other possible applications?

So far, Sinalit is being used by pilot customers in the automotive sector. But it also offers opportunities for other sectors. For example, the renewable energy sector: When I think of wind power or photovoltaic systems, the long service life of the product and its lightweight construction are major advantages. Another possible area of application would be high-frequency technology. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a popular material here today due to its low dielectric constant and low loss factor. However, the EU is planning to ban PFAS/PTFE. Si3N4 ceramic is an environmentally friendly alternative with a low dielectric constant (+/- 8.3 at 1 Mhz) and a low dissipation factor (≤ 10^(-3)at 1 Mhz).

What is the overall potential of the product?

When I look at the various possible applications, I see one thing very clearly: Sinalit is an enabler for more diversity in solutions and more sustainability. The outstanding properties of silicon nitride can enable performance improvements in many areas and thus strengthen them. Whether in electromobility or new energies, I see this as a contribution to a successful energy transition.

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