Silicon semiconductor has been dominant in the electronics industry for the last decades and it has formed the core electronic world covering most of the applications in our daily life. Wide bandgap electronics, in the form of SiC and GaN, were getting ever increasing popularities due to the advantages where traditional silicon technology cannot overcome.
Silicon carbide (SiC) is a semiconductor containing silicon and carbon with chemical formula SiC. It occurs in nature as the extremely rare mineral moissanite. Synthetic silicon carbide powder has been mass-produced since 1893 for use as an abrasive. Electronic applications of silicon carbide such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and detectors in early radios were first demonstrated around 1907. For the recent 20years, SiC is used in semiconductor electronics devices that operate at high temperatures or high voltages and very low switching loss.
Gallium nitride (GaN) is a type of wide bandgap semiconductor commonly used in light-emitting diodes since the 1990s for applications in optoelectronic, high-power and high-frequency devices. It is also a suitable material for solar cell arrays in satellites, and other military and space. Because GaN transistors can operate at much higher temperatures and work at much higher voltages than gallium arsenide (GaAs) transistors, they make ideal power amplifiers at microwave frequencies. In addition, GaN offers promising characteristics for switching frequency at THz range.
SiC semiconductor type power components such as MOSFET can have a very small gate charge and switching loss, while it is being driven to operate at extended case temperature beyond 150-degree Celsius easily. Also, it can easier to increase the working voltage of a MOSFET to 1200V or 1700V range. Thus, there are obvious advantages to have SiC Type MOSFETs over traditional silicon MOSFETs for the same die or package size in some power conversion applications where heat issue would be a big concern.
With more and more SiC / GaN epi wafer availability, commercial SiC and GaN material have a better cost structure to make SiC devices, like Schottky diodes, MOSFET, TVS diodes, ESD diodes…etc
Littelfuse is a leading circuit protection product supplier in the market for many years. Starting from 2014, the customer is increasing the investment in the power control business development by self-develop the power components and by acquiring other third parties component company. Littelfuse expanded the SiC product portfolio by acquiring the majority ownership of Monolithic Semiconductor Inc in 2015; Littelfuse acquired IXYS in 2017, all these steps make Littelfuse in a more solid position in the power semiconductor business.
In terms of the SiC products, Littelfuse launched first 1200V SiC type Schottky diode series and an important 1200V SiC MOSFET in the market. There is some more exciting product launch in 2018 afterward, including 1700V MOSFET and Schottky diodes and 650V Schottky diodes. With respect to market needs and the growth of the EV electric vehicles, 900V MOSFET and 650V Schottky diodes are in the roadmap and will be released at the end of 2018 afterward. Littelfuse very focus on providing SiC type solutions for the EV charging pile & On-board chargers, wind power, solar power, industrial drives, server & internet power supply…etc, those high power efficient conversion systems. Littelfuse will also launch GaN type products in 2019 and beyond.
To conclude, with the IXYS broad product portfolio, Littelfuse will be an important player and supplier in the power semiconductor market.
About the Author: Teddy To is currently the Senior Technical Marketing Manager of Semiconductor Business Unit. He is in charge of the business development of SiC & IGBT power products in Asia. He also owns 4 international patents and 2 Chinese patents in power semiconductor protection. He is also a co-author of the book “Fundamentals of Circuit Protections and Its applications” by Beijing Industry Press in 2010. He can be reached at [email protected]