SiC module research aims at electric vehicle production

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Three factors are decisive for power electronics in electric vehicles: space, weight and efficiency. Silicon carbide (SiC) fulfills all conditions, because it enables higher efficiency and can be installed more compactly than conventional semiconductors such as silicon.

However the use of SiC in series-produced electric cars is limited. In order to be able to use this material in industrial production as well, the Fraunhofer SiC Module research project is incorporating certain framework conditions of industrial production from the outset. For example, the module that researchers at Fraunhofer IZM are developing is based on a classical printed circuit board structure that is already established in industry and easy to implement.

At the same time, the latest research findings are implemented in the module: The semiconductor is not contacted with a wire bond connection, but is embedded directly into the circuit via a galvanically produced copper contact, so that the connection distance can be shortened and the contact parameter optimized. Here, too, the research team involves potential industrial customers in the development process: In the first year of the project, a requirement specification was drawn up in which the electrical, thermal and performance requirements for the module and semiconductors were defined. The specifications that the product must meet were drawn up by the researchers in close cooperation with users from the automotive industry.

The dimensioning and electrical design of the power electronic modules was carried out in direct cooperation with automobile manufacturers, component suppliers and component manufacturers. This makes it possible to make optimum use of space in the vehicle drive train. Lars Böttcher is group leader at Fraunhofer IZM and sub-project leader for the SiC project. He explains: “We are going beyond general feasibility, because in this project we are developing more than just a prototype. The goal is to get both the new semiconductor material silicon carbide and the embedding technology on the way to series production.

The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the E-Mobility Call with a project volume of 3.89 million euros and runs until December 2020. In addition to Fraunhofer IZM, six other partners are involved in the project: AixControl – Gesellschaft für leistungselektronische Systemlösungen mbH, Conti Temic microelectronic GmbH, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, Robert Bosch GmbH, Schweizer Electronic AG and TLK-Thermo GmbH.

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