Automotive & Transportation

Silicone-Carbide Power Chips May Enable Faster, Better Electric Cars

16 May 2016

STMicroelectronics believes the future of automotive power semiconductors resides in silicon-carbide technology.

The Geneva-based company has introduced a new generation of rectifiers and MOSFETs for high-voltage power modules and discrete solutions targeted at hybrid and electric vehicles' (EVs) main electrical blocks, including the traction inverter, onboard battery charger and auxiliary DC-DC converter.

In EVs and hybrids, better electrical efficiency means greater mileage. Silicon-carbide (SiC) technology allows makers of EVs and hybrids the ability to create vehicles that will travel further, recharge faster and fit better into owners’ lives, ST says.

Currently the power modules in EVs and hybrids are based on standard silicon diodes and insulated gate bipolar transistors. SiC allows for smaller device geometries that can operate above the 400V range of today’s electric and hybrid vehicles, ST says. A smaller geometry means a lower internal resistance and the ability to respond quicker than silicon devices, which in turn minimizes energy loss and saves on size and weight of vehicles.

ST is offering a 650V SiC diode model qualified for the AEC-Q101 automotive standard as well as a 1200V SiC diode device expected to be available in 2017. The company is also sampling a 650V SiC MOSFET that will ramp up in volume production beginning in the first half of next year.

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