Sometimes, you have to call in the big guns. That's what wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors can be. As their name implies, WBG semiconductors have a larger bandgap than conventional silicon.
Bandgap is measured in electronvolts (eV) with WBG semiconductors ranging from 2eV to 4eV. Silicon is 1.12eV. So, WBG semiconductors allow for higher efficiency, switching frequencies, operating temperatures, and breakdown voltages than conventional semiconductor materials.
Because of WBG's versatility, design engineers can use WBG semiconductors in diverse applications, ranging from industrial applications, such as motor drives and power supplies, to automotive and transportation systems, including hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs), aircraft, and ships. On an industrial level, WBGs contribute to delivering increased efficient power in railway systems, manufacturing, power plants, and more. WBG semiconductors are also employed in the traction inverter of EVs and for Level 3 charging of EVs.
Gallium nitride (GaN), which is a WBG material, is suited for high-power radio-frequency applications and offers significant advantages over traditional semiconductors. Space and military sectors, especially military-grade radar systems, benefit from GaN semiconductors. Design engineers will appreciate GaN's robustness, thermal performance, and reduced weight and dimensions.
In telecommunications systems, GaN creates various innovative solutions, including those underpinning 5G technology. GaN-based components are reliable replacements for traditional silicon-based devices in applications such as RF amplifiers and phased antenna arrays.
WBG applications are resilient and diverse—traits that designers appreciate. It's why this week's New Tech Tuesdays examines WBG semiconductors from UnitedSiC, and Wolfspeed/Cree, Nexperia, and UnitedSiC for that next wide-bandgap project.
Wolfspeed/Cree 650V Silicon Carbide Power MOSFETs deliver power efficiencies that can help manufacturers create the next generation of onboard EV charging, data centers, and energy storage solutions. This emphasis on power efficiency translates to lower energy losses and less heat. These SiC MOSFETS are also smaller and lighter. Compared to silicon, they also deliver 75 percent lower switching losses and a 50 percent decrease in conduction losses, leading to a potential 300 percent increase in power density.
Nexperia GAN041-650WSB Gallium Nitride (GaN) FETs are used in automotive, 5G, and datacenter applications. The device combines high-voltage GaN HEMT H2 technology and low-voltage silicon MOSFET technologies in a TO-247 package for reliability and performance. It's also ideal for power factor correction (PFC), servo motor drives, single-phase solar inverters, and hard- and soft-switching converters.
UnitedSiC UF3C SiC FETs are suited for controlled environment applications such as telecom and server power, industrial power supplies, motor drives, and induction heating. The UF3C series provides higher switching speeds, higher efficiency, and lower losses for hard-switching applications. They also offer a flexible replacement solution for most TO-247-3L IGBT, Si SJ-MOSFET, and SiC-MOSFET parts. This means system upgrades for greater performance and efficiency can be realized without requiring changes to the existing gate drive circuitry.
Design engineers know that wide bandgap semiconductors are the answer for power applications. WBG semiconductor applications are diverse, and they're called on in developing emerging and next-generation technologies related to EV charging and energy storage solutions. It's no wonder developers turn to wide bandgap semiconductors for designing power solutions.
For a deeper dive, visit Empowering Innovation Together's look at the evolution of power management and wide bandgap. The section features a podcast hosted by Raymond Yin, Mouser Electronics director of technical content, and articles, blog posts, and resources about the benefits of power management and wide bandgap.
Tommy Cummings is a senior technical content specialist at Mouser Electronics in Mansfield, Texas. Tommy joined Mouser in 2018 after a journalism career that included The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. At one time, he was actually a Heisman Trophy voter. He can be followed on Twitter at @tommycummings or on LinkedIn.
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