December 2018 - Advantages of using Silicon Carbide
Published on: 18/12/2018
Discover the advantages and disadvantages of using silicon carbide today
Silicon Carbide, a synthetic mineral is also known as carborundum, it is a semiconductor containing silicon and carbon with chemical formula SiC.
Silicon Carbide offers numerous advantages such as higher power density, reduced cooling requirements and lower overall system costs in applications such as inverters, motor drives and battery chargers.
1. Silicon carbide typically loses just 1% of the energy lost by silicon during the reverse recovery phase
2. Silicon carbide devices can switch at higher frequencies and improve efficiency because there is less energy to dissipate
3. The higher efficiency, smaller size and lower weight of SiC can create a higher-rated solution or a smaller design with reduced cooling requirements
4. SiC provide a stable performance whereas silicon’s performance worsens over higher temperatures
5. Typically, a SiC device with half the current rating will perform the same job as a silicon IGBT, this is because silicon is much more stable over higher temperatures and doesn’t require significant derating
6. Silicon carbide operates at above 10kV and devices rated at 1,200V and 1,700V are available.
7. Diode switching losses are almost eliminated because of the dramatic improvement in reverse recovery energy and tail current
8. Silicon Carbide delivers 10x the mean time to failure (MTTF) of silicon and is 30x less sensitive to radiation and single event failure but requires a fast-acting gate driver because it has a lower short circuit tolerance
9. SiC packages are typically smaller and more thermally efficient than silicon
1. Engineers do not usually consider the higher frequency switching an advantage for lower-speed applications and are often considered a premium purchase
2. There is limited availability of SiC especially at 600V/650V and most devices available are discrete components.
3. Silicon carbide devices require a specifically designed gate driver and also require drive voltages that differ from their silicon IGBT counterparts
4. SiC devices require augmented turn-off, combined with higher frequency and lower internal losses can lead to current spikes and ringing problems
SiC packages are typically smaller packages and are a good choice for new system designs. SiC-based power modules are the answer for designers seeking to build more efficient devices and applications.
GD Rectifiers has been an official distributor for the IXYS Corporation for over 20 years and stocks their complete range of: diodes, IGBTs, MOSFETs, rectifier bridges, AC controlled thyristors, switchable current regulators, thyristors and thyristor module accessories, alongside their IXYS UK, IXYS RF, Integrated Circuits and Solar product ranges.
Silicon carbide devices are compact enough to shrink the component footprint and are powerful enough to deliver higher switching performance.
Take advantage of our experience and let our SiC-based power modules give your design the SiC-driven edge.