Search

Semikron Danfoss leads the way with cutting-edge power module solutions – An interview with Semikron Danfoss

interviewee

Ole Mühlfeld

Head of Product Management and Applications

Semikron Danfoss

Interviewer

Shalu_AGARWAL-SAG_YINT

Shalu Agarwal, PhD

Senior Technology & Market Analyst, Power Electronics and Battery

Ole Mühlfeld

Head of Product Management and Applications

Ole Mühlfeld is Head of Product Management and Applications at Semikron Danfoss. He holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and a Diploma in Physics from the University of Kiel, Germany. Within his work, he and his team develop product concepts for application-specific power modules, utilizing advanced packaging technologies to add value to EV drivetrains. Ole has filed a number of patent applications related to the packaging of power electronics.

Shalu_AGARWAL-SAG_YINT

Shalu Agarwal, PhD

Senior Technology & Market Analyst, Power Electronics and Battery

Based on India, Shalu is engaged in the development of technology & market products as well as the development of custom consulting studies. Shalu has more than 12 years’ experience in Electronic Material Chemistry. Before joining Yole Group, she worked as a project manager and research professor in the field of electronic materials, batteries and inorganic chemistry. Shalu Agarwal received her master’s and PhD degree in Chemistry from the Indian institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee (India).

Power modules are essential components of power electronics systems. The revenue from power modules is projected to reach $16 billion by 2029, with a 12% CAGR from 2023 to 2029, according to new Yole Group’s report, Status of the Power Module Packaging Industry 2024.

In the past, the demand for power modules was primarily driven by industrial applications. However, there has been a shift with electric vehicle applications emerging as the largest market segment for power modules, valued at $3.8 billion in 2023.

The requirements for automotive power modules, including power, frequency, efficiency, robustness, reliability, weight, and volume, are often more stringent than those for industrial products due to high vehicle safety standards, limited space, and challenging environmental conditions. As a result, there is a growing need for power modules with high power density, small form factor, and exceptional reliability to meet the demands of the automotive industry. Additionally, the lower cost of power modules is also crucial. This shift has also impacted the technology trends in power module packaging, including types of semiconductors dies, encapsulation, die-attach, substrate-attach materials, ceramic substrates, baseplates, and electrical interconnections.

The primary suppliers of power modules are in Europe and Japan. These companies include Infineon Technologies, Semikron Danfoss, Fuji Electric, and Mitsubishi Electric. In the United States, the prominent representatives are onsemi and Wolfspeed. China has also seen increased power module manufacturers due to the rising demand. Notable companies include StarPower, CRRC, BYD, and MACMIC. Additionally, many Tier-1 automotive manufacturers, such as Denso, Bosch, and Vitesco Technologies, as well as automotive OEMs, are also concentrating on developing their own power module solutions.

Shalu Agarwal, Senior Technology & Market Analyst, Power Electronics and Batteries at Yole Group, had the opportunity to discuss with Ole Mühlfeld, Head of Product Management and Applications at Semikron Danfoss, one of the top power module manufacturers. Today, they invite you to learn more about the current status and future trends for the power electronics industry, Semikron Danfoss’ products, and strategy. This discussion also covers the emergence of new players entering the power module manufacturing sector. Yole Group and Semikron Danfoss today open the door to the power electronics world.

Shalu Agarwal (SA): Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Ole Muhlfeld (OM): My Name is Ole Muhlfeld. I am responsible for product management and application engineering at Semikron Danfoss Automotive. Within our department, we work on innovative product platforms for automotive traction power modules. Our team of power electronic experts provides technical support to fully leverage the benefits of our technologies in customer applications.

SA: Please give us a brief overview of Danfoss’s background and the current situation after the merger with Semikron.

OM: The official merger was announced in August 2022, and at the beginning of last year, we merged the teams of the former Danfoss Silicon Power and the former Semikron into the new Semikron Danfoss, joining forces to be a global leader in power module manufacturing. With a foundation in family-owned businesses, focusing on application-specific product platforms for our customers, we offer a comprehensive technology portfolio that makes the best use of semiconductors with our advanced bonding, packaging, and cooling technologies. Looking at Yole reports from the past, Semikron and Danfoss were rated as “technology leaders” individually. Through our merger, we will strengthen this position, thus leveraging synergies and scale in technologies, sourcing, and production.

SA: Today, continuous innovation to improve thermal management and downsizing of power modules, especially for electric vehicle applications, is needed. However, reducing the price of power modules is equally essential. What is Semikron Danfoss’s approach to achieving both these requirements?

eMPack, 750V and 1200V, 500-900A+, SiC
– Courtesy of Semikron Danfoss, 2024
DCM1000, 750V and 1200V, 450-900A, Si and SiC
– Courtesy of Semikron Danfoss, 2024

OM: With the electrification of medium-power vehicles for mass market applications, electric drivetrains are now on the brink of becoming standard for new vehicle generations. With that comes a strong push to drive cost down and increase the “Ampere per Euro” KPI that we use as a metric. To do that, we rely on our broad supplier portfolio for next-generation semiconductors, offering higher current densities and better efficiency than ever before. At the same time, more compact packages help to reduce footprint and space requirements in inverters. Added functionality, like current sensors, offers additional value for our customers. The combination of these ideas enables us to design and produce cost-competitive power modules tailored for different applications.

SA: The global power module market is dominated by electric vehicles, closely followed by industrial applications such as industrial motors and photovoltaics. In your opinion, what is the status of the power module industry today in both the industrial and xEV segments? What is the market share of these segments?

OM: Semikron Danfoss serves three main markets: automotive, industry, and renewables. The technological advances and the scale we get through automotive, ensure that technologies will be transferred to other applications we serve, like the aforementioned industrial motors or photovoltaics and wind applications. Today, the biggest share is within industrial applications, followed by solutions for power stacks. Automotive will take the lead in a short time from now due to the extreme growth rates.

SA: Today, most OEMs and Tier 1s are interested in designing power modules. They have increased their knowledge, and a few players like BYD, Bosch, and Denso can mass-produce power modules. However, more players will likely develop, design, and deploy power module packaging capacities in-house in the coming years. What is Danfoss’ strategy regarding the trends of automotive Tier 1s and OEMs to design and manufacture power modules?

DCM500, 750V and 1200V, 350-500A, Si and SiC
– Courtesy of Semikron Danfoss, 2024

OM: Semikron Danfoss differentiates through technology. We are setting the benchmarks with products like DCM and eMPack. The market is huge and differentiated. A clear trend towards one over another packaging technology is not visible yet. We are confident that, now and in the future, our customers will value the benefit of reliable, high-performing power modules within their systems, ensuring the utilization of the latest chip generations and future-proof packaging technologies. At the same time, we are stepping up into a direct supply role to OEMs – we see the strong trend to insource inverter manufacturing. Our business model allows us to do both: direct OEM business as well as close cooperation with traditional Tier 1s.

SA: Would you like to add any closing thoughts for our readers?

OM: The automotive industry is one of the most challenging markets you can be in, and we are proud to be an established and trusted partner for our customers. Our ambition is to stay ahead of the technology wave through innovative technologies, supporting our customers to stay ahead of the competition.

Please stay tuned to see what the next-generation products from Semikron Danfoss will look like – continuously innovating, thus defending our pole position in technology leadership.

Related products


up