Revolutionizing power semiconductors: transformation and trends

An article written for PCIM Magazine, in collaboration with Yole Group.

In the ever-evolving realm of power semiconductors, the past decade has seen remarkable shifts, with reliable indicators that there is significant change to come. The total power electronics market, including discretes and modules, was worth US$20.9 billion in 2022, and is expected to grow to US$33.3 billion by 2028. Historically, silicon has been the dominant technology – and silicon’s evolution continues, with the adoption of 300 mm Si MOSFET and IGBT platforms, ensuring its continued cost competitiveness. But it is the rapid rise of wide bandgap (WBG) technologies (notably silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN)) that are doing most to reshape the industry.

SiC is witnessing substantial growth. The power electronics market for SiC is projected to reach US$10 billion by 2029, capturing 28.6% of the global market. This is being driven by technological trends like 200 mm platforms, higher power densities, and optimized power module packaging. The trends are supported by a shift towards vertical integration within the SiC ecosystem. Leaders like STMicroelectronics, ROHM, onsemi and Wolfspeed, for example, are enhancing their supply chains to include internal substrate production capabilities. Meanwhile, there has been a tremendous effort in expanding the SiC wafer capacity, especially by Chinese players such as Tankeblue, SICC, SemiSiC and numerous others.

GaN technology is also showing robust growth across multiple applications, including consumer electronics and automotive, particularly in areas like fast chargers and overvoltage protection, as well as in power supply applications in home appliances and data centres. Innovation is also driving the exploration of the next generation of semiconductors, like bulk GaN, gallium oxide, and diamond.

Automotive electrification transforms power module technology and market trends

Electric vehicles (EVs) have already gained considerable market acceptance and represent a significant share of the overall power electronics industry. In 2023, almost 30% of all passenger vehicles sold globally were electric. This percentage is expected to increase in the coming years, with the projection that EVs will make up 50% of all passenger vehicles by 2028.

EVs represent a significant and sustainable market opportunity, but they also have a much wider impact. The automotive industry has a reputation for driving standards and introducing new technologies in power electronics. The immediate motivation is to improve driving range and to lower costs. But the advances have repeatedly altered trends in power module technologies and the development of battery packs, and streamlined supply chains. This then creates new opportunities as the technology is adopted in various industrial applications requiring robust performance and enhanced efficiency.

The impacts of the trend toward more affordable EVs

EVs are entering a new phase of market expansion, commonly referred to as the ‘move towards more affordable vehicles.’

… Read the full article page 38.

Source: PCIM Magazine