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Power Semiconductors

Semiconductor

Powerful Semiconductors

Mobile and consumer electronics focus on delivering processing performance at as low power as possible and at a low cost. Silicon based semiconductors are ideal for this with a long history of development following Moore’s law with each new generation giving smaller, faster transistors operating at lower power requirements.

Semiconductors are also needed for higher power applications like electrical appliances, transportation, and power generation and distribution. These devices need to operate at significant power, both voltage and current, and sometimes high frequency as well. The predominant device for applications at low to medium frequency is typically the insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) and power MOSFETs used for high frequencies due to better switching performance.

The industries that can take advantage of advancements in power semiconductor devices typically are related to how these devices can improve high voltage and high frequency power applications and include:

  • Automotive
  • Renewable energy
  • Industrial
  • Consumer electronics

Automotive use of power semiconductor devices is predominantly driven from the surge in popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles and photovoltaic power generation and inverters are another large area of growth.

In the past, silicon based devices have been predominantly used for high-voltage applications but material properties of silicon limit how high of a voltage can be used. High electric fields in semiconductors lead to breakdown compromises must be made between breakdown voltage, device resistance and switching speeds.

New materials for power applications are being used to take advantage of superior material properties. Silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) have higher band gap energies than silicon as well as other attributed beneficial to power semiconductors devices. The higher band gap energies lead to reduced leakage current and are also favourable for another common power device, the Schottky Barrier Diode. Other advantageous material properties of SiC and GaN over traditional silicon include better heat conduction and lower resistance in bulk structures.

er semiconductor devices typically are related to how these devices can improve high voltage and high frequency power applications and include:

  • Automotive
  • Renewable energy
  • Industrial
  • Consumer electronics

Automotive use of power semiconductor devices is predominantly driven from the surge in popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles and photovoltaic power generation and inverters are another large area of growth.

In the past, silicon based devices have been predominantly used for high-voltage applications but material properties of silicon limit how high of a voltage can be used. High electric fields in semiconductors lead to breakdown compromises must be made between breakdown voltage, device resistance and switching speeds.

New materials for power applications are being used to take advantage of superior material properties. Silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) have higher band gap energies than silicon as well as other attributed beneficial to power semiconductors devices. The higher band gap energies lead to reduced leakage current and are also favourable for another common power device, the Schottky Barrier Diode. Other advantageous material properties of SiC and GaN over traditional silicon include better heat conduction and lower resistance in bulk structures.

Semiconductor
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