Silicon carbide is considered to be among materials that could revolutionise electronics and power engineering. Compared to silicon, it provides a larger band gap (3 eV), higher breakdown voltage and better heat conductivity. However, it is also more difficult to process. It wasn’t until the 1990s that single crystal growth of this semiconductor was mastered. Silicon carbide-based electronic systems entered mass production at the beginning of the 21st century. This material’s properties make it excellent for manufacturing power electronics components.
Silicon carbide use in CoolSiC series
Infineon Technologies is one of the leaders in designing and manufacturing silicon carbide-based electronic components. They began production of such systems in 2001. Currently, Infineon’s offer includes, among others, power systems using MOSFET transistors and Schottky diodes, made with the CoolSiC technology, based on silicon carbide.
The CoolSiC series includes several system groups i.e. MOSFET transistor-based switches, Schottky diodes, and hybrid systems that incorporate a silicon IGBT and diodes made of silicon carbide. The CoolSiC series is comprised of elements in various enclosure types, and the portfolio is still being expanded.
CoolSiC series Schottky diodes
Currently, you can find several dozen CoolSiC series Schottky diode types in Transfer Multisort Elektronik’s offer. These diodes are available in packages suitable for surface mounting or THT mounting. The acceptable breakdown voltage of these elements ranges from 600 V to 1200 V, their forward current can reach 40 A, and maximum rated power can reach 402 W. (for the IDW40G120C5BFKSA1 model). All systems from this series can operate in an extended ambient temperature range: from -55 °C to 175 °C.
Compared to similar silicon components, the CoolSiC series diodes are distinguished by:
- the ability to operate at higher ambient temperatures and at higher voltage levels;
- several times higher maximum reverse voltage;
- shorter switching time;
- lower resistance in conductive state.
Other CoolSiC series components, such as MOSFET transistor-based switches, offer similar benefits.
The benefits of silicon carbide systems
Thanks to the increased maximum operating temperature of systems made of silicon carbide there is no need to dissipate as much heat as with silicon components. This enables the use of less demanding cooling systems such as smaller heatsinks. And as we know, simplifying the cooling system reduces its costs, which compensates for the higher prices of SiC components.
In turn, using smaller heat sinks can significantly reduce the size of the entire device, which can be crucial in many applications.
Thanks to their beneficial properties, silicon carbide-based power systems are becoming more widely used in power engineering, especially in more demanding applications. They are commonly used in high quality switch-mode power supplies, photovoltaic panels and lighting systems. They are used in all applications where reliability, high reverse voltage resistance, high operating speed, and low power dissipation are crucial. They are indispensable in applications requiring operation in high ambienttemperatures. Since their popularity has been steadily increasing in recent years it is anticipated that in the near future they will be introduced to other industries e.g. the automotive industry.
The CoolSiC series is one of the most advanced and largest series of semiconductor systems made of silicon carbide. When designing a high-power system, this series should certainly be taken into consideration. Its manufacturer, Infineon Technologies, is among the pioneers of this technology, and has been gradually developing it for over a decade. More information can be found at Transfer Multisort Elektronik’s website (www.tme.eu).