To say that the future is bright for logic boards and electronic devices would be a massive understatement. The world of semiconductors is not one that attracts the attention of regular folks, but it is one that has a great appeal to designers, manufacturers, and old-school investors such as Warren Buffet.
Yes, the Warren Buffet from Berkshire Hathaway, has invested heavily in the semiconductors industry. That alone speaks volumes about this industry.
Silicon carbide semiconductors play a big role in this industry. The best way to learn about them is through the things that make them special. To that end, here are the main advantages of silicon carbide semiconductors.
Common Silicon Semiconductors Shortcomings
There are several reasons why silicon carbide semiconductors stand out. The vast majority of those reasons have to with the limitations of silicon’s properties. Silicon semiconductors are also known as IGBTS, and when used in power systems and powered electronic devices, they present the following shortcomings:
- Finite thermal conductivity
- Substantial power loss
- Low bandgap energy
- Repetitive issues when switching between frequencies
Now when we know the limitations of common silicon semiconductors, let’s see what silicon carbide semiconductors bring to the table as an advantage. Silicon carbide semiconductors are also known as SiC MOSFETs.
Silicon Carbide Semiconductors are Optimized for Working With High Voltages
On average, Semiconductors made from silicon carbide can withstand voltages that are ten times higher than what ordinary silicon can withstand. That has a massive impact in terms of cost and system complexity.
For example, silicon carbide semiconductors systems use fewer switches than the standard silicon semiconductors. Fewer switches suggest fewer components, lower costs, and way more reliable systems.
Silicon Carbide Semiconductors Can Withstand Higher Temperatures
SiC semiconductors can operate even at temperatures of 200°C and more. For comparison, IGBTs can only operate at temperatures lower than 150°C. That’s a notable difference that makes SiCs the preferred material for a wide range of electronic products.
Thanks to the higher temperature rating, system designers can create systems that are less complex with fewer storage inductors and capacitors. That brings down the cost of those systems significantly while at the same time it increases their reliability.
Industries That Benefit Most from SiC Semiconductors
The automotive industry is the main industry that benefits from electronic systems using silicon carbide semiconductors. Companies such as Toyota, Tesla, Ford, Mercedes, along with many others are driving the main demand for SiC semiconductors. The demand is extremely high for driverless and electric vehicles featuring traction inverters and onboard charging units.
However, the automotive industry isn’t the only one that drives the demand for SiC MOSFETs. They are very common in wind turbines, solar inverters, sensor systems, and military installations.
Silicon Carbide Semiconductors present superior features and that’s a fact. Their only real downside is their initial cost. They do cost more, but that tends to pay off after a certain period. Experts predict that as demand grows for SiC MOSFETs, so their price will drop. They also believe that they will be essential in bringing to market many new technologies.