Who and what was worth seeing at PCIM 2019?

21st May 2019
Anna Flockett

Power is always an interesting topic as it is a necessity in life, but after visiting my first ever PCIM show this week it has opened my eyes as to how big the automotive power sector is, and how much it is expected to grow. Of course the big players in the automotive industry continue to innovate, but PCIM this year saw more companies starting to become involved in automotive power, whereas before they stuck to the more energy and industrial sides of power.

Analog Devices
Analog Devices (ADI) had their latest solutions and devices on show from the ecosystem, that are ready available solutions that customers can take away and use or take the reference design as inspiration, and Stefano Gallinaro as part of a forum gave a talk on battery management for energy storage systems and ADI’s innovations in the ecosystem. In this he spoke about the three pillars in technology being; battery management, power conversion and power management. Equally in the market the focus areas fall into; bus or train EV chargers, Telecom ESS, industrial robot forklifts and AGVs, BMS and charger ESS.

Gallinaro explained currently the energy storage market is very fragmented, as there is so many people getting involved. The challenge for customers is that there is limited R&D resources, and faster time to market is now a must. So what is the solution? Gallinaro explained that Analog Devices has created the most complete portfolio of ICs and system level solutions and a dynamic partner ecosystem, which includes BMS reference designs ad commercial solutions, under the themes of battery management, power management and power conversion, and results in better time to market, reliability and a good R&D focus.

Gallinaro said: “It’s about showing customers there is not just one black and white solution, there are different ways you can get there.”

With power it’s all about the cost, weight and size and some elements are more important for different sectors. For example, the size is going to be a lot more demanding in automotive than in industrial. Gallinaro expressed: “We can be more flexible with certain customers, and sometimes we design parts together. We want to work together on new solutions, and obviously some parts are easier to do this with than others.”

LEM also had a few new announcements at the show, the first one being the LZSR family of transducers, which can be mounted onto PCBs for non-intrusive, isolated measurements of DC, AC and pulsed currents from 100-200A nominal. They are used in a closed loop mode, where the ASIC based in Hall effect technology can reach a low offset drift, and can work in a temperature range of -40 to 85°C. The LZSR range comes in a very compact size but without compromising high insulation.

Advanced manufacturing techniques inspired on automotive designs have also been introduced allowing these new transducers to achieve the highest levels of quality and traceability. The LZSR production line has been designed to be a semi-automatic assembling line.

LEM were also introducing the integrator AI-PMUL to complete its flexible clip-around Rogowski coil offering. AI-PMUL is a versatile digital signal conditioner of Rogowski coils secondary signal which offers a wide range of standard analogue True RMS and instantaneous outputs.

This integrator is necessary to convert the signal as the Rogowski coils output voltage is proportional to the derivative of primary current. The new integrator is an essential component in current measurement with a Rogowski coil and the amplification stage architecture and implementation have a major impact on the sensor’s electrical performance such as linearity, phase-shift and frequency bandwidth.

Infineon is one of the major players when it comes to power semiconductors, it empowers a world of unlimited energy. Infineon at the show launched power products and solutions that will make a difference and deliver customers a cutting edge in competition.

With the safe completion of the production ramp of its Silicon Carbide (SiC) MOSFET base technology, Infineon enters high volume production of a comprehensive discrete product portfolio of 1200 V CoolSiC MOSFET devices. The discrete SiC portfolio comprises seven different on-resistance ratings available in both, TO247-3 and TO247-4 housings.

The expansion includes a surface mount device (SMD) portfolio and a 650V CoolSiC MOSFET product family, which was just launched. The CoolGaN 600V e-mode HEMT devices together with the GaN EiceDRIVER ICs open up new levels of efficiency for high performance applications. At the show we were able to explore Infineon’s GaN solution in next-generation server, data centre, telecom, motor drives, charging and adapter applications.

The 48V architecture for hyperscale data centres is evolving. Enabling highest efficiency and power density for this innovative design, allowing for an easy transition path from 12-48V, Infineon’s new proprietary zero-voltage-switching switched-capacitor converter (ZSC) is a technology to rely on. The ZSC board was also showcased for the first time, shedding a light on future infrastructure for big data.

Infineon also introduced the Easy 3B package making the Easy family the broadest power module portfolio at 12mm height without base plate. Easy 3B is the platform to extend current inverter design to achieve higher power without changing much on the mechanical side. The new package inherits many of the advantages of the family portfolio such as the flexible pin-grid system for customising.

Extending its large portfolio of high voltage devices, the new package XHP 3 will also on show at PCIM, a flexible IGBT module platform for high-power applications in the voltage range from 3,3kV up to 6,5kV. The module allows for scalable designs with best-in-class reliability and highest power density.

Due to its symmetrical design with low stray inductance it offers significantly improved switching behaviour: a solution for demanding applications such as traction and commercial, construction and agricultural vehicles as well as medium-voltage drives.

Infineon also launched the first member of a new family of magnetic current sensors at PCIM. The coreless HALL sensor XENSIV TLI4971 provides an accurate and stable current measurement in industrial applications. It offers a high level of flexibility as customers can individually program product parameters such as the current range, the overcurrent threshold and the output mode.

For the automotive players, Infineon launched four new derivatives of the HybridPACK Drive power module for main inverters in hybrid and electric vehicles. They are optimised for different inverter performance levels between 100-200kW. Since all members of the product family have an identical footprint, they allow for inverter performance to be scaled quickly and without a major system redesign.

Mitsubishi held a press conference to announce the launch of its 1,300V SiC Schottky Barrier Diode which reduces power loss and the physical size of power supply systems. The silicon-carbide Schottky-barrier diode (SiC-SBD) works for power supply systems for infrastructure, photovoltaic power systems and some others.

The aim for this SiC-SBD is to utilise the advantages of the SiC technology in order to achieve an energy-saving inverter design, as Mitsubishi has a good reputation for this with Mitsubishi SiC diodes up to 21% energy losses can be optimised, and essentially this results in higher reliability.

With all the different classes of SiC Mitsubishi diodes the company is able to meet the requirements of different applications including those of automotive. But it’s not all about automotive, as at the show the company also chose to announce the large DIPIPM+ series which is a simpler and compact design for inverter systems in air conditioners and industrial applications.

Dr Gourab Majumdar explained that three new DIPIPM+ transfer-mould intelligent power modules designed by Mitsubishi feature an input stage rectifier suitable for use in air-conditioner units and industrial inverters.

ROHM also had two announcements to make which included the availability of the BM2SCQ12xT-LBZ series, AC/DC converter ICs with a built-in 1,700V SiC MOSFET which are optimised for industrial applications such as street lamps. 

Christian Felgemacher, Field Applications Engineer in the Power Systems Department at ROHM explained the company has strived to lead the development of ICs that maximise SiC power semiconductor performance. “We have created the industry’s first AC/DC converter ICs with built-in SiC MOSFETs that will further accelerate the adoption of AC/DC converters that use SiC MOSFETs in industrial applications.”

The BM2SCQ12xT-LBZ series adopts a dedicated package that incorporates a 1,700V SiC MOSFET with the control circuitry, which is required for industrial auxiliary power supplies. This technology also delivers advantages that contribute to the increase in demand for AC/DC converters with integrated SiC MOSFETs by improving reliability, energy efficiency and compactness.

ROHM was also showing its line-up of automotive-grade 1200V-rated IGBTs, the four new additions are suitable for inverters used in electronic compressors for switching circuits used in positive temperature coefficient (PTC) heaters. The RGS series represents ROHM’s line-up of AEC-Q101-compliant IGBTs in both 1200 and 650V rated variants. This helps reduce conduction loss and size which results in improving efficiency.

This larger portfolio leads to ROHM working with a broader range of industries with its number of applications. In recent years an increasing number of automotive makers are offering electric vehicles, in response to the demand of helping the environment and rising fuel costs. But increasing the number of EVs means and increase in the need for electric compressors often driven in IGBTs. Additionally, this market is requiring an increase in battery capacity to improve driving range, again something ROHM is addressing in its new product releases.

Meeting and speaking with Indium I learnt the importance of not just power supplies and products but the materials that go into making these. Seth Homer, ESM Product Manager at Indium said: “We believe material science will change the world, and here at Indium we are able to go further than others as we not only have the materials to make this happen but also have the people – it makes us the enablers in the industry.”

Homer continued to explain Indium’s role in the industry as certain disciplines in the power industry lend themselves to other industries. “We have crossovers into RF through work we do within 5G.” He continued: “To get more power out something even smaller is often the typical demand these days, and that is where our SOLDER REDEFINDED products work as it allows that precision.”

Indium works across a number of industries and even participates in the what seems to be ‘sector of the moment’, e-mobility. Homer said: “The thing is we have been working in the industry for a while, working with new solutions, and often we are involved in industries before the momentum is really there. Then all of a sudden it becomes a big focus.”

He added that EVs and HEVs have become more important over the recent years but Indium just grow with the trend: “We are very well involved with RF, memory, automotive – it’s a good range of sectors.”

Exagan was also a company that stood out to me at the show as in a room full of SiC power companies it was refreshing to meet a GaN-based company, and the only one in Europe, Frederic Dupont, President and CEO of Exagan explained to me.

Exagan has a mission to accelerate the transition of the power-electronics industry with smaller and more efficient electrical converters by moving past SiC and offering more GaN technology. The company works over a number of industries and is revolutionising energy usage. Dupont said: “With GaN we want to reinvent power conversion in many applications to achieve unparalleled performance in terms of integration and energy consumption.”

Its range of products stretch over smart homes, to produce greener power in smart homes, IT electronics to provide faster charging of mobile devices and more power efficiency in data centres, and of course the big player automotive. Exagan aims to provide greater autonomy of electric vehicles with GaN power.

The G-Stack technology from Exagan uses GaN’s superior properties as it makes it the best semiconductor material for high-performance switching applications. Exagan created the G-Stack to produce GaN-on-silicon material using a scalable and cost-effective 200mm silicon platform.  This enables Exagan to control all critical parameters of products, material, design, process, packaging and final test.

Exagan’s transistor technology compliments advanced silicon-processing technologies for 200mm equipment. Exagan is the first company to commercialise GaN-FERs on 200mm silicon wafers using a high-volume manufacturing facility qualified for automotive applications.

The company also highlighted its G-FET and G-DRIVE products at the show, as it offers high performance GaN-based 650V fast switching power devices for the next generation of electrical converters in consumer, smart buildings, IT electronics, industrial and automotive applications. The G-FET safe and powerful switching products offer broad power range, easy system implementation, rugged gate and thermal sensing. The G-DRIVE intelligent and fast switching products include embedded GaN gate drivers, fast switching, integrated protection and diagnostics, slew rate control and peak current monitoring.

Exagan believes that by conforming with established and cost-efficient silicon manufacturing standards its GaN products are market ready for both niche and mainstream applications.

Overall, 2019 proved an exciting, successful and busy PCIM show proving that power is a thriving sector that won’t take a hit very easily, especially with the likes of the automotive and industrial sectors overpowering the power industry, and especially with the potential for EVs being right around the corner.

Photo Credit: Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH/Uwe Mühlhäußer.

Featured products

Upcoming Events

View all events
Latest global electronics news