Let me start by mentioning that power electronics is my absolute favorite! Thank you for taking the time to show me your products and innovations at PCIM. It has really been a pleasure to meet you all!
PCIM has seen a lot of companies working with gallium nitride and silicon carbide. Semiconductors for electric vehicles and the energy revolution — all of this is an ecosystem that is evolving rapidly. SiC and GaN devices have a much higher critical breakdown voltage than Si, allowing for a thinner drift layer and higher doping concentration. This leads to lower on-resistance for a given die area and voltage rating, providing for greater efficiency through reduced power loss.
Let’s have a look at what I saw during this three-day event.
Qorvo has expanded its 1,200-V product family and has extended its Gen 4 SiC FET technology to higher-voltage applications. The new UF4C/SC series of 1,200-V Gen 4 SiC FETs is ideal for EV on-board chargers, industrial battery chargers, industrial power supplies, DC/DC solar inverters, welding machines, uninterruptible power supplies, and induction heating applications. Anup Bhalla, vice president of engineering at UnitedSiC (now Qorvo), told Power Electronics News, “During the pandemic, we finished and started to release our Generation 4 technology, and we came to PCIM to introduce our 1,200-V Gen 4 technology.”
Concerning the future, Bhalla said, “SiC has really taken off in the last one or two years, despite the pandemic. But the fact that the business is growing so fast means that, whatever technology development we were doing before, this is going to become even more important and probably speed up.”
PCIM Europe 2022 has kicked off with an interesting set of industry breakthroughs, which include Infineon’s most recent SiC MOSFET portfolio. To increase the rated power per inverter and reduce system costs, developers are increasingly incorporating 1,500-V DC links into their applications. The 1,500-V DC-based systems, on the other hand, have significant design issues, such as quick switching at high DC voltage, necessitating a multilevel topology. As a result, a complex design with a large number of parts emerges. Infineon Technologies AG has expanded its CoolSiC portfolio to include high-voltage solutions, paving the way for next-generation solar, EV charging, and energy storage systems.
Onsemi shown the manufacturing process of SiC at its booth with picture like in Figure 1. The booth was packed with live demonstrations of onsemi’s latest technologies, showing how it enables the development of market-leading solutions in the areas of e-mobility, energy storage, smart power, and more. Included among the exciting demos were a Student Formula car, developed in conjunction with Technical University Munich, and an e-scooter. The latest (seventh generation) 1,200-V FS7 IGBT has decreased forward bias voltage by 20% compared with the previous generation, greatly improving the efficiency and power density in motor control applications.
Rohm announced its European and global business activities, strategies, and SiC investment plans. One of Rohm’s new power innovations is its fourth generation of SiC MOSFETs: It achieves up to 50% lower switching loss and 40% reduction of on-resistance without sacrificing short-circuit ruggedness. On top, the latest generation offers a more flexible gate voltage range (15–18 V) and supports turn-off with 0 V — enabling simple gate-drive circuits with unipolar supply to be used. Rohm enters the GaN market with its 150-V GaN HEMTs, the GNE10xxTB series (GNE1040TB), which increase gate-withstand voltage (rated gate-source voltage) to an industry-leading 8 V — ideally to be applied in power supply circuits for industrial equipment such as base stations and data centers, along with IoT communication devices.
At Wolfspeed’s booth, SiC was the main topic, with the opening of the New York-based fab with the goal to expand Wolfspeed’s manufacturing capacity to meet the steepening demand for SiC devices across automotive and industrial applications. Guy Moxey, senior director of power products at Wolfspeed, noted the importance of 200-mm substrates for the next quantum leap for SiC. The 200-mm wafer fab will help lead the industry-wide transition from silicon- to SiC-based semiconductors.
Moreover, Rhombus Energy Solutions, a leader in EV charging and power-conversion technology, announced that Wolfspeed will supply its EV2flexTM line of charging infrastructure products with SiC MOSFETs, which will offer the products greater efficiency, higher power density, and faster charging times. Rhombus’s EV2flexTM infrastructure includes a family of products that enables fast, bidirectional charging and efficient energy storage. Vehicle-to-grid charging supports power flow between the grid and the car, allowing a charged vehicle to become a power source when needed and ultimately enhancing the stability of the power grid.
Apex Microtechnology continues its developments with the family of devices with integrated SiC MOSFET technology, improving performance and power density. Compared with silicon, SiC offers several benefits, such as its lower on-resistance versus both temperature and current levels. A low RDS(on) results in a better current versus voltage performance and lower switching losses. Even though the cost of SiC is higher compared with silicon, its reduced thermal load, simpler cooling, and greater reliability compensate for this drawback.
Starting with these considerations, Apex — a provider of power analog monolithic, hybrid, and open-frame components for a wide range of industrial, test and measurement, medical, aerospace, semi-cap, and military applications — developed new products exploiting the properties of SiC. These products include the SA110, a half-bridge switching module with integrated gate driver, and the SA310, a three-phase power-switching module with integrated gate driver. The Arizona-headquartered company has recently announced the SA111, a SiC-based high-power half-bridge module that delivers high levels of power density in a compact proprietary PQ package.
Efficient Power Conversion Corporation is continuining to work in the GaN field with a low-voltage, off-the-shelf GaN transistor: the EPC2071 (1.7 mΩ typical, 100 V) GaN FET. The EPC2071 is ideal for BLDC motor drives, including e-bikes, e-scooters, robots, drones, and power tools. During the event, EPC shown several applications in LiDAR and motor control. Alex Lidow, CEO and co-founder of EPC, highlighted the importance of LiDAR in automotive.
Wise-integration makes use of the qualified 650-V GaN/Si available technology from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and can manage the industrialization flow, starting from the device specification up to the system assembly. GaN-based products integrate power switches with smart functions on the same die. The power transistors are 650-V e-mode, while smart functions include gate control and protection circuits. To better address the power supply market, the French company has combined its technology with the patented AC/DC system architecture running by digital control.
A partnership between Eggtronic and Navitas Semiconductor delivers a platform for developing 35-W GaN-based zero-voltage–switching (ZVS) fast chargers with industry-leading power densities. The QuarEgg evaluation board will speed the development and implementation of power adapters. QuarEgg is an innovative, proprietary ZVS power architecture that has been designed to significantly improve the efficiency and reduce the size of AC/DC converters. The architecture maximizes the performance, minimizes the form factor, and improves the reliability of AC/DC power schemes in applications ranging from USB-C Power Delivery fast chargers and adapters for mobile devices and laptops to power supplies for loudspeakers and smart-home assistants.
Meanwhile, Navitas is in mass production with nine of the top 10 mobile OEMs, with 10 of 10 targeted by the end of the year. New wins for mobile-phone chargers include: Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S22 Ultra and S22+ smartphones (recommended, 45 W for fastest charging) and Xiaomi AMG Mercedes Formula 1 version (in-box, 120-W ultra-fast, 0% to 100% in only 37 minutes). The company also announced that its next-generation GaNFast power ICs with GaNSense technology have been used in Lenovo’s newly released Legion C135 GaN charger and featured on the Nasdaq Tower in Times Square, New York.
Vertical GaN is also entering in the industry. NexGen Power Systems demonstrated its technologies powered by vertical GaN devices. From ultra-compact laptop power adapters to sleeker and smarter lighting designs, from power-efficient hyperscale data centers to EVs with longer range, NexGen claims to be able to change the power equation with vertical technology.
Cambridge GaN Devices (CGD) is working with its new devices of 650-V/750-V power transistors into the market. ICeGaN technology consists of a power transistor with monolithic integration of smart interfaces for sensing/protection, ease of use, and enhanced gate reliability. You will hear the voice of CEO Giorgia Longobardi in the next PowerUP podcast.
Richard Ord, business development consultant at QPT, illustrated a new module, qGaN drive for motor control. Some motor drives operate as low as 50%, and the International Energy Agency reported that as much as 25% of electricity from electric-motor–driven systems could be saved cost-effectively. QPT’s qGaNDrive module can transform the performance of motor drives, reducing losses by 80%. Ord said that qGaNDrive is a revolutionary new architecture for a new breed of motor drive. qGaNDrive uses QPT’s patented qDrive, qSense, qADC, and Zest technologies to create a modular motor drive that is easy for OEMs to switch into their existing designs.
According to Denis Marcon, general manager at Innoscience, we are entering a new phase for GaN technology where there is a need to provide high-volume manufacturing and security of supply to support all of the new GaN-based applications that have emerged. Additionally, there is a strong need for a significant price reduction for GaN so that people can benefit from the technology without paying a big premium for it. Innoscience is addressing these needs by being the largest integrated device manufacturer fully focused on GaN technology.
IVWorks highlighted its deep-learning–based artificial-intelligence epitaxy technology to make GaN epitaxial wafers, a key material in DC power devices and 5G communication devices. Epitaxial GaN wafer is characterized by high efficiency and high power output and is a base material used in power and radio-frequency (RF) devices. It is used in fast chargers in IT products, power converters in EVs, 5G base stations, and defence radars. IVWorks produces 6- to 8-inch GaN-Si epitaxial wafers for power devices and 4- to 6-inch GaN-SiC epitaxial wafers for RF devices using its own technology of an efficient and environmentally friendly epitaxy system and an AI-based production platform.
GaN Systems announced the debut of Phihong’s 280-W GaN charger, the industry’s highest-power–density power supply for gaming laptops. Phihong’s 280-W GaN gaming power supply highlights a performance level that leads the industry in an ultra-compact case size of 160 × 69 × 25-mm and a 700-g lightweight design. This charger is 50% smaller and 30% lighter than legacy 280-W gaming chargers. With GaN, gone are the days of the “brick” power supply, said Jim Witham, CEO of GaN Systems.
Matthias Kasper, lead principal engineer of the System Innovations Lab at Infineon Technologies Austria, highlighted a hardware demostrator of next-gen 240-W USB-C charge. The topology is interleaved totem-pole and DCX and ZVS buck converter with 600-V CoolGaN and 100-V CoolGaN in primary and secondary, respectively. The digital control can be performed with advanced modulation methods by external connection.
Philip Zuk, senior vice president of technical marketing for applications and business development at Transphorm, highlighted the next challenges of GaN and SiC, in particular the next market of Transphorm, with its portfolio that includes 650-V and 900-V devices in JEDEC and AEC-Q101 forms and various packages. The portfolio’s technological advantages are largely driven by the company’s vertical integration. Uncommon in the GaN semiconductor industry, this operation model allows Transphorm to control its devices’ design, epitaxial wafer (starting material), and manufacturing process.
MinDCet has been focused from the beginning on high-voltage and high-power ASIC design. Over the years, MinDCet has made substantial investments on the development of high-voltage IC testing, delivering test and measurement systems and final-production testing services. At PCIM, MinDCet introduced motor drivers using MOSFETs and GaN but also analog-based Class D audio amplifiers and solar inverters using SiC. Their first standard product is the MDC901, a 200-V GaN gate driver that comes together with a half-bridge evaluation kit.
Steve Shultis, senior vice president of sales and marketing of Empower Semiconductors, noted the advances in power electronics with its integrated voltage regulators alongside innovative silicon-based alternatives to conventional capacitors, as well as the Empower E-CAP, a configurable, silicon-based alternative to multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs). E-CAP devices offer a capacitance density more than 5× that of leading MLCCs, with improved equivalent series inductance and equivalent series resistance characteristics that dramatically reduce parasitics.
Shultis said, “Lots of representation with GaN and SiC technology; I see quite a bit of innovation. It’s also good to see real traffic, it’s good to see people getting out exploring. The new technologies are representing. So far, it’s been a good experience for me to see what’s going on in general in the power industry.”
Nexperia has presented a new portfolio of application-specific MOSFETs (ASFETs) for automobile air-bag applications, headlining with the release of the BUK9M20-60EL single N-channel 60-V, 13-mΩ logic-level MOSFET in LFPAK33 packaging. This portfolio of ASFETs uses a combination of the latest silicon trench technology and LFPAK packaging, allowing it to meet the most recent reliability standards. Meanwhile, Nexperia announced the release of 14 rectifiers for power applications in its new CFP2-HP (Clip-Bonded FlatPower) packaging. Available in standard and AEC-Q101 versions, these include 45-V, 60-V, and 100-V trench Schottky rectifiers (with 1-A and 2-A options), including the PMEG100T20ELXD-Q, a 100-V, 2-A trench Schottky barrier rectifier.
Power Integrations announced the SCALETM EV family of gate-driver boards for Infineon EconoDUAL modules. Suitable for original, clone, and new SiC variants, the driver targets high-power automotive and traction inverters for EV, hybrid, and fuel-cell vehicles including buses and trucks as well as construction, mining, and agricultural equipment. The new boards are automotive-qualified and ASIL B–certified, enabling implementation of ASIL C traction inverter designs. The first SCALE EV family member to be released is the 2SP0215F2Q0C, designed for the EconoDUAL 900-A 1,200-V IGBT half-bridge module.
Peter Vaughan, director of automotive business development at Power Integrations, noted that gate-driver design is critical to both the performance and reliability of EVs. “This new product where the development, testing, and qualification plus ASIL certification have already been done is dramatically reducing development time and cost,” he said.
Danisense launched its new DT series of ultra-stable, high-precision (ppm class) fluxgate current transducers with closed-loop compensated technology for isolated DC and AC current measurement up to 200 Arms. Benefiting from a reduced size with 60% less volume compared with the previous product generation, the devices feature a large frequency bandwidth of up to 2 MHz and a primary current of ranging from 50 A up to 200 A.
Oliver Steidl, field application engineer for distribution development in EMEA at Yageo Group, highlighted the main products in the automotive and energy markets, particularly ceramic technology surface-mount capacitors for high-density packaging and a design solution for high-efficiency and high-density power applications. These capacitors are well suited for power converters, inverters, snubbers, and resonators where high efficiency and space are primary concerns. A film capacitor designed for harsh environments is AEC-Q200–qualified, is RoHS-compliant, and operates within the –40˚C to 110˚C temperature range.
Antonino Gaito, technical marketing manager and power MOSFET specialist at STMicroelectronics, highlighted MDmesh M9 power semiconductors, the key superjunction MOSFET technology to boost the green economy. STMicroelectronics launched the first members of its MDmesh M9 and DM9 MOSFET families. The devices are N-channel superjunction multidrain silicon power MOSFETs. The company is targeting the devices at switched-mode power supplies used in a variety of systems, including data-center servers, 5G infrastructure gear, and flat-panel TVs. The first two chips to roll out are the 650-V STP65N045M9 and the 600-V STP60N043DM9. The maximum RDS(on) specs for the devices are 45 mΩ for the STP65N045M9 and 43 mΩ for the STP60N043DM9. ST claims that the low RDS(on) specs maximize power density and enable designs with compact dimensions. The devices also offer low gate charge (QG), typically 80 nC at 400-V drain voltage.
I had a chance to visit the Analog Devices (ADI) pavilion during Sensor & Test, held in parallel with PCIM. ADI presented new integrated true-power-on multiturn position solutions for automotive electric power steering. In addition, contactless AC and DC current-sensing solutions are presented as a clamp meter, bus bar, and PCB solutions using an anisotropic magnetoresistive sensor. The technology accurately and easily detects current ranges up to 500 A. Other vibration-based condition-monitoring solutions with ADI’s MEMS sensor and Ethernet technology (10BASE-T1L) include a three-axis accelerometer with nanowatt power for battery-powered edge-detection applications that are always active in health care, automotive and industry, and a fully integrated time-of-flight module for depth sensing with 1-MP resolution in a wide range of applications.