Higher energy efficiency and resulting lower losses in all electronic operations is a general central industrial skill – and even more so against the backdrop of climate change. One of the key technologies in this field is silicon carbide (SiC) technology for semiconductors.
European industry now plans to build a value chain that makes it less dependent on external political and economic power relations for SiC. In the project “Trusted European SiC Value Chain for a greener Economy”, or “Transform” for short, 34 companies plan to build a resilient supply chain for this technology. The project covers a wide range of value generation from basic materials and wafers to SiC power semiconductors and complete electronic systems.
“The Transform project is designed to help Europe become a leader in new silicon carbide-based technologies,” said Jens Fabrowsky, member of the Automotive Electronics division board at Bosch GmbH, which is leading the consortium. The resilient supply chain that is to emerge from the project is also intended to ensure that SiC components can be increasingly used in all areas of power electronics in the future. Compared to conventional silicon components, these enable faster switching processes and thus lower energy losses. As a result, the usually costly cooling can be reduced, which directly saves energy. Due to the higher electric field strength of silicon carbide, the components can also be dimensioned smaller. Depending on the area of application, experts expect energy savings of up to 30 percent compared to silicon chips.
The demand for such energy-efficient components will grow strongly, especially in energy-intensive applications – from electric vehicle drives to charging stations and power supply. The market research and consulting company Yole expects the entire SiC market to grow by an average of 30 percent each year to more than $2.5 billion by 2025. The funding project will therefore develop new SiC technologies as well as processes and methods for their production. In addition, the availability of machinery and equipment for the production of substrates and wafers up to the power electronics of European suppliers is to be ensured. The project, which will run until 2024, focuses on five use cases from the automotive, industrial, renewable energy and agricultural sectors.
The project has been allocated a project budget of more than € 89 million by the European Union. It brings together key players in the SiC value chain from Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden. Partner companies include Aixtron, Danfoss, EV Group, Premo, Saint-Gobain, Semikron, Soitec, STMicroelectronics and Valeo-Siemens Automotive. Participating scientific organisations are, for example, Brno University of Technology, CEA Leti, Fraunhofer IISB and the University of Seville.
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