SiC and GaN: an industry driven by different engines

An article written by Ezgi Dogmus, Poshun Chiu, and Taha Ayari, from Yole Intelligence, part of Yole Group, for EE TIMES 50th Anniversary Special Edition: The Next Silicon Frontier – Over the last several decades, developments in silicon carbide and gallium nitride technologies have led to growing industry acceptance and the promise of revenues in the billions of dollars for devices based on the two wide-bandgap (WBG) materials.

The first commercial SiC device arrived in 2001 in the form of a Schottky diode from Germany’s Infineon Technologies. Rapid development followed, and the industry sector is now poised to exceed $6 billion by 2027. GaN first wowed the industry in 2010, when U.S.-based Efficient Power Conversion (EPC) delivered super-fast switching transistors. Market adoption has not yet matched that of SiC, but come 2027, power GaN revenues could hit more than $2 billion.

The secret to future market success for each technology rests with electric and hybrid vehicles.

Sweet spot for SiC

The EV/hybrid-vehicle market is truly the sweet spot for SiC power components: More than 70% of revenues, equating to $4.7 billion, is expected to come from this sector.
Tesla kickstarted the SiC power device market in 2017, when it became the first automaker to use SiC MOSFETs in a car (the Model 3). Sourced from STMicroelectronics, the device was integrated with an in-house–designed main inverter. Other automakers have been quick to follow, including Hyundai, BYD, Lucid, Nio, General Motors, and Geely, among others.

Today, the transition of battery voltage from 400 V to 800 V is under way, sparking a new wave of competition among OEMs to achieve the battery-electric vehicle with best-in-class driving range and fast charging. Accordingly, a voltage rating of 1,200 V is required for SiC components. BYD’s Han EV and Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 are shipping in high volume today. And as every quarter delivers record sales, more high-end BEVs are expected to come to the market and drive even stronger demand for SiC in 2023.

From a supply perspective, major SiC device manufacturers — such as Wolfspeed, Infineon Technologies, STMicroelectronics, Rohm, and onsemi — provide automotive-grade discrete products or modules. The surge in demand also motivates IDMs to adjust their strategies to meet the requirements of automotive OEMs.

One key trend has been to build in-house substrate supplies for device manufacturers, vertically integrating from SiC substrate to device manufacturing in order to manage the supply of critical SiC technology. Rohm acquired SiCrystal a decade ago to integrate substrate growth capability internally, and onsemi made a similar and significant move in 2021 by acquiring GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT), an American SiC boule supplier. The leading company in SiC components, STMicroelectronics, is also expanding substrate activities after having acquired Norstel in Sweden in 2019. Infineon Technologies is sourcing SiC substrates from multiple suppliers; the German company is also developing boule and wafer-splitting technology…

Read the full story here !


By Jean-Christophe Eloy, for EE TIMES 50th Anniversary Special Edition: The Next Silicon Frontier – While silicon remains a constant in our industry, there are already signs of significant changes to the industry models we know today. Let me begin by saying that silicon content in everyday products will continue to increase. But an evolution is under way, driven by four factors, all of which integrate functionality and are reshaping the industry.

The first factor is front-end integration to integrate more transistors — and thus more functionality — per square millimeter of silicon… More

Source: EE TIMES