ST gears up for growing demand for automotive SiC devices

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In a move intended to reduce manufacturing costs, improve quality and deliver the volumes expected from car makers, STMicroelectronics is moving production of silicon carbide (SiC) MOSFETs and diodes to 6in wafers and says it is on schedule to complete the conversions by the end of 2016.

“Major carmakers and automotive Tier-1s are now committing to SiC technology for future product development to leverage its higher aggregate efficiency compared to standard silicon in a wide range of operating scenarios,” said Mario Aleo, general manager of ST’s power transistor division. “Our SiC devices have demonstrated superior performance and reached an advanced stage of qualification as we support customers preparing to launch new products in the 2017 timeframe.”

ST says it was one of the first companies to produce SiC high voltage MOSFETs, introducing a 1200V SiC MOSFET in 2014. Since then, it has qualified 650V SiC diodes to AEC-Q101 and is looking to complete qualification of the latest 650V SiC MOSFETs and 1200V SiC diodes in early 2017. New generation 1200V SiC MOSFETs will be qualified by the end of 2017, it adds.

According to ST, using one of its 650V SiC MOSFETs in the main inverter of an electric or hybrid vehicle can increase provide a 3% boost in efficiency compared with an equivalent IGBT solution, providing longer battery life and a smaller, lighter power unit with lower cooling requirements. The device is also said to reduce inverter power losses, enabling designers to use higher switching frequencies for more compact designs.