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ROHM’s SiC power devices: Solutions for the world’s energy and climate problems

Since SiC diodes were first commercialized 15 years ago, the SiC power business has steadily grown. Today, SiC’s benefits are no secret and ever more industries are considering developing new products including SiC technologies.

“The SiC power business is concrete and real, with a promising outlook”, proclaims Yole Développement (Yole) in its latest compound semiconductor report, ‘Power SiC 2016: Materials, Devices, Modules & Applications’. It estimates that the SiC power market was worth more than $200M in 2015 and will surpass $600M in 2021, which equates to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21% for this period.
For an even better understanding of where this market is heading, Yole Développement sat down with Dr. Prasad Bhalerao, Business Development Manager at ROHM Semiconductor, to discuss the SiC business, as well as his company’s vision and developments.

SiC Power Device Market - Yole Developpement June 2016

Yole Développement (YD): Could you please briefly introduce ROHM’s SiC products and their history?

Prasad Bhalerao (PB): The demand for power is increasing on a global scale every year while fossil fuels continue to be depleted and global warming is growing at an alarming rate. This requires better solutions for the use of power and available resources. ROHM provides ‘eco-devices’ designed for lower power consumption and high efficiency operation. These include low power ICs, passive components, and optoelectronics that save energy and reduce CO2 emissions. We’re also proud to include next generation SiC devices that promise even lower power consumption and higher efficiency than silicon.
ROHM has successfully established a pioneering position in the development and production of SiC. Thanks to intensive R&D collaborations with renowned universities around the world and close association with application experts ROHM has cultivated high tech know-how and expertise in SiC.
To mention some of our development milestones, ROHM has developed its first preliminary SiC MOSFET in 2004. With constant, intensive research ROHM was honored to announce Japan’s first mass-produced SiC Schottky Barrier Diodes in April 2010, followed by industry’s first commercially available SiC transistor, a MOSFET, in December 2010. In March 2012 ROHM unveiled the industry’s first mass production of a full SiC module.
It’s an official corporate policy at ROHM that quality is the most important requirement. ROHM strongly believes in a consistently high-quality product system. The acquisition of Germany’s SiCrystal in 2009 allowed ROHM to perform the entire manufacturing process from wafer processing to power module manufacturing in-house. This not only ensures stable production and high quality standards but enhances and enables the development of new products.


ROHM PR181 PCIM SiC SBDSiC Schottky barrier diodes (Source: ROHM Semiconductor)

YD: What is the commercialization status of ROHM’s products in different applications?

PB: ROHM’s offering in SiC is attracting great attention due to its superior characteristics compared to silicon such as lower on-resistance, faster switching speeds and higher temperature operation. It allows for smaller products with lower power consumption enabling compact system design. Additional advantages include high voltage and high temperature operation making SiC a preferable solution in applications like automotive. In hybrid and electric vehicles (HEV) SiC contributes to better fuel economy and larger cabin area, while in solar power applications they halve power losses compared to silicon. Due to ROHM’s extended line up, with 650V, 1200V and 1700V SiC diodes and SiC MOSFETs, it is also used in the field of auxiliary power supplies/Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS), auxiliary traction power supplies and drives. Other applications like medical, welding, white-goods and wind are also following this trend.
ROHM’s SiC products are already in mass production, with second and third generation SiC SBDs addressing the PV and power supply markets strongly. Newly introduced in 2015, the third generation SiC trench MOSFET is also improving system efficiency in various applications due to improved on-resistance.

YD: Which application is the fastest growing market for SiC diodes and MOSFETs, respectively?

: ROHM believes SiC will be used in all power applications in the future. Applications like photovoltaics, including energy storage systems, power supplies, and electric vehicles are currently leading the trend. As market leader, ROHM feels that the future growth engines for SiC are photovoltaics and power supplies, mainly using SiC diodes and SiC MOSFETs. At the same time ROHM is engaging with many promising design-in activities in HEV and UPS which will come into mass production in coming years. We believe the proof of reliability in the field and cost-technical benefit on the system level will boost the use of SiC in various power applications.

YD: How you see the competition in the SiC power business?

PB: The SiC market has good dynamics currently. The SiC diode market is flooding with new suppliers. A few suppliers of SiC MOSFETs other than ROHM are also coming into production. ROHM believes in healthy competition, but is also gaining a high share due to its pioneering position in SiC development and supply.
ROHM’s high quality standards and continuing development to widen its product portfolio means it already leads the market and will continue to grow. The breadth of ROHM’s offering, from its own bare die chips, discrete components, modules and also collaboration with established module makers such as Danfoss, Semikron and Vincotech to offer different package-specific solutions for customers gives us an added advantage over our competition. ROHM is the company in SiC that controls its own vertically-integrated manufacturing from substrate to product.
ROHM constantly watches the market for new developments from competitors, but is nevertheless confident that it will maintain its leadership in SiC.


PR164 SPS Preview rohm yole i micronewsSiC power modules (Source: ROHM Semiconductor)

YD: What are the main challenges for the SiC power market today?

PB: The main challenge in the past was to make customers aware of the system benefits SiC offers. ROHM thinks that customers are now convinced by SiC technology and its benefits on the system level. The market is moving slowly towards maturity. ROHM believes that very soon stable production systems and increasing demand will also make SiC a cost-effective solution for customers.
Additionally, ROHM feels the need for development in understanding the environment SiC products exist in, in the fields of gate drivers, low inductance and high temperature packages, and high frequency passive components, is equally important to get the maximum benefits from SiC devices in systems.

YD: ROHM was the first to launch trench SiC MOSFETs and you have both trench and planar MOSFETs. How do these two products compare? Is there any difference in terms of market target? How you see the growth of the trench and planar SiC MOSFET market?

PB: Indeed ROHM has successfully introduced the SiC trench MOSFET and achieved best-in-class on-state resistance. Trench technology offers certain cost-effective production advantages but also has to consider techno-commercial breakeven compared to planar technology. Therefore, we introduced our 650V-rated portfolio in addition to 1200V devices. These products enable us to offer an entire range of replacements for established silicon devices.

YD: ROHM’s MOSFETs are currently produced on 4-inch SiC wafers. When will you go to 6-inch?

PB: ROHM has successfully introduced and internally qualified 6-inch SiC wafers for diodes. This process will be in mass production very soon. For SiC MOSFETs we are currently at 4-inch and also analyzing 6-inch wafers for internal production processes. ROHM feels that we will be able to announce 6-inch for SiC MOSFET before long, although SiC diodes on 6-inch wafers will be implemented first.

YD: What are the next steps for ROHM?

PB: ROHM invests a lot of effort in continuous development. ROHM is developing SiC MOSFETs for high voltages, 3.3kV and 6.5kV, enabling the use of SiC in high voltage applications like power transmission, and traction inverters. In addition ROHM is also working on its fourth generation of SiC MOSFET technology. Our parallel development on gate driver ICs for SiC will help customers to use SiC more easily at the system level. In addition ROHM will extend its product line with more packages for 650V and 1200V.

YD: What are ROHM’s upcoming SiC products?

PB: The third generation SiC diodes, offering high surge current and good forward voltage, rated 6A, 8A, 10A and 650V, are available. Third generation diodes in D2pack, with ratings from 2A-10A, are under development.
A new range of SiC trench MOSFETs, rated at 650V/30m? or 1200V/40m? has now entered mass production. The third generation best-in-class 650V/17-120m?, 1200V/22-160m? MOSFETs are planned for mass production soon. ROHM is committed to on-time development of the right products for the right market, maintaining high quality standards in future.

 

Interviewee:

Bhalerao Prasad rohm Dr. Prasad Bhalerao, Business Development Manager, Industrial Sales, ROHM Semiconductor GmbH
Dr. Bhalerao, is graduated from University of Karlsruhe and received his PhD Degree from TU Berlin specialization in Power semiconductors. Prior to ROHM Semiconductors GmbH, Willich, Germany as Business development Manager for Industrial SiC applications, he has gained the experience in the semiconductor industry in Marketing & Product Management at Mitsubishi Electric Semiconductors, Infineon Technologies & Bombardier transportation for more than 12 years.

 

Sources:  Yole Développement  –  Rohm

 

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