Diamond shines in high-power devices

An article written by Anne-Françoise Pelé from EETIMES, in collaboration with Ana Villamor, Team Lead Analyst, Power Electronics at Yole Intelligence, part of Yole Group – In an increasingly energy-conscious world, demand is booming for high-power applications with superior efficiency and power density. As silicon approaches its physical limits, the semiconductor industry is exploring wide-bandgap (WBG) materials, notably silicon carbide (SiC), gallium nitride (GaN) and, a bit further into the future, diamond.

Tesla kicked off the SiC power device market in 2018, when it became the first automaker to use SiC MOSFETs in its Model 3. Over the years, Tesla has been a major contributor to the growth of the SiC market. But the industry went into a panic after Tesla announced its next-gen powertrain would use a permanent-magnet motor that would reduce its SiC use by 75%.

“Silicon carbide is an amazing semiconductor, but it’s also expensive, and it’s really hard to scale. So using less of it is a big win for us,” Colin Campbell, Tesla’s vice president for powertrain engineering, said on March 1 at Tesla’s 2023 Investor Day event.

A 75% reduction may seem concerning, but that figure does not tell the whole story. Yole Intelligence indicated in mid-March that the SiC devices market is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 30% to reach beyond $6 billion in 2027, with automotive expected to represent around 80% of the market.

“We estimate that there will be no disruptive power electronics technology coming to the market in the next few years, since the last major disruption—the emergence of SiC and GaN—is still playing out and is grabbing a share of the traditional silicon market,” Ana Villamor, team lead analyst for power electronics activities within the Power and Wireless division at Yole Intelligence, said. “Nevertheless, several technologies are being developed that will come to fruition in the long-term, such as diamond, SiC IGBTs and gallium oxide.”

… Read the full article here.