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How is Silicon Carbide Used in Emerging Industries?

The continuous development of electric vehicles, smart power grid, nuclear power and solar energy as well as navigation, aviation, aerospace, high-speed rail transit and other energy fields has put forward higher requirements for the performance of power devices.

At present, the power devices based on silicon materials are approaching the theoretical limit determined by the properties of the materials themselves with the improvement of their structure design and manufacturing process. The third-generation semiconductor material can replace the first-generation semiconductor material silicon to meet the higher demand in the future and will be more widely used in the industry.

The third-generation semiconductor material has wider banding width, higher breakdown electric field, thermal conductivity, electron saturation rate and higher radiation resistance, and is suitable for making high-temperature, high-frequency, radiation-resistant and high-power devices. The representative materials are silicon carbide, gallium nitride, zinc oxide, diamond and aluminum nitride.

At present, the most mature third-generation semiconductor material with the greatest application potential is silicon carbide, and its various indexes are better than silicon, and its banding width is almost three times that of silicon. Besides, the theory working temperature of silicon carbide devices is 600 ℃, which is far higher than that of silicon devices.

Application of silicon carbide in electric vehicle field

Silicon carbide, as an advanced electronic material that is the core of ev charging module and electric module in the future, can realize the energy supply, low-carbon, intelligent and sustainable development of green travel, and finally seize the commanding height of future industrial development. The improvement of the charging module performance of silicon carbide devices is mainly reflected in three aspects: (1) to improve the frequency and simplify the power supply network; (2) to reduce loss and temperature rise; (3) to reduce the volume and improve the efficiency.

Silicon carbide components can improve the power conversion performance of pure electric vehicles or hybrid vehicles. In the electric vehicle’s electric module, the motor is the active load and its rotating speed range is wide, and it needs frequent acceleration and deceleration during the driving process, so the working conditions are more complicated than the general speed regulating system.


Application of silicon carbide in new type power transmission system

Silicon carbide power switch is an ideal substitute for silicon based devices because of its extremely low open state resistance and can be applied to high voltage, high temperature and high frequency applications. If the silicon carbide power module is used, the power loss caused by switching loss can be reduced by more than five times compared with the silicon power supply device, which will have a significant impact on future grid configuration and energy strategy adjustments, with a reduction of more than 40 percent in size and weight.

Silicon carbide based power switch

Silicon carbide based power switch

Application of silicon carbide in solar energy field

Silicon carbide power devices are designed for applications of high-power modules such as solar inverters, uninterruptible power supply devices, and wind turbine motor drivers to achieve smaller sizes, lower material costs, and higher efficiency. The typical conversion efficiency of the new standard solar silicon-based inverter is close to 96%, while the average efficiency of silicon carbide based inverter can be improved to 97.5%, which is equivalent to 25% reduction of inverter loss. Besides, silicon carbide based inverter can improve conversion efficiency by 20% in wind power field.

Application of silicon carbide in LED lighting

LED lights made of silicon carbide

LED lights made of silicon carbide

At present, the core materials of LED optoelectronic devices such as silicon carbide and gallium nitride and other third-generation semiconductor materials technology and application are becoming a new strategic highland of the global semiconductor industry. Silicon carbide LED lighting equipment can reduce the number of original LED lights by 1/3, reduce the cost by 40-50%, and increase the brightness by twice, thermal conductivity by more than 10 times. All kinds of signal lights, interior lighting, information screens, color display equipment and white light lighting can be seen in daily life use silicon carbide LED semiconductor lighting, which can achieve higher electro-optical conversion efficiency, as well as achieve the purpose of significantly reducing costs and pollution.

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