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Silicon Carbide and Gallium Nitride Power Technology

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Silicon Carbide and Gallium Nitride Power Technology

How2Power’s SiC and GaN Power Technology section brings you news of SiC and GaN developments along with related design information, supplier data, book reviews, and technology roadmaps.

In this section you’ll find summaries and links for the following resources:

  • SiC and GaN power technology news as reported in the How2Power Today newsletter; as well as articles from other technical publications;
  • Design Articles discussing the use of the SiC and GaN power components such as diodes, transistors, and modules in power converter designs;
  • SiC and GaN Source Lists naming the device manufacturers and the product categories they offer;
  • Book reviews on SiC- and GaN-related engineering texts;
  • Technology roadmaps forecasting the development of SiC and GaN power devices and process capabilities.

SiC and GaN News Articles

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Adam Vašíček and Alexander James Young, How2Power Today, Dec 2015
You’ve heard about gallium nitride (GaN) transistors’ superior performance, and you are excited. The samples finally arrive, and you put them onto your board. You turn on the power, you bring up the load, and you see… no better performance than before. Worse, you have switching problems that didn’t previously exist. These transistors are no good. What a sham. What is all the buzz about? Is it possible you are missing something? In this commentary, Adam Vašíček and Alexander James Young discuss misconceptions about GaN power transistors, important differences between these devices and the silicon power transistors, and why GaN devices should not be used as drop-in replacements for silicon power transistors. As the authors explain, systems need to be designed around the new GaN transistors in order to take advantage of their special characteristics.  Read the article»
Sujit Banerjee, Kevin Matocha, and Kiran Chatty from Monolith Semiconductor, Oct 2015
By manufacturing SiC MOSFETs on 150-mm (6-inch) CMOS silicon lines, fabless start-up Monolith Semiconductor plans to lower the cost of SiC MOSFETs to that of silicon IGBTs within five to eight years. The recent availability of high-quality 6-inch SiC substrates and epitaxial wafers makes this possible. But then compatible SiC processes are also needed. As the authors explain “by adopting properly designed process integration techniques and introducing a few SiC-specific tools, it is possible to fabricate SiC MOSFETs in silicon CMOS fabs with the same set of tools and processes that are used for processing silicon wafers at high volumes. “ This article discusses Monolith Semiconductor’s plans and the factors that will drive down the cost of making SiC MOSFETs. Customer concerns over device reliability such as gate-oxide lifetime and high-temperature threshold voltage stability are also discussed along with the results of reliability tests conducted so far.  Read the article»
Kevin Parmenter, How2Power Today, Apr 2015
At this year’s Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC 2015) in Charlotte, N.C., I was once again honored and privileged to moderate the rap session on wide-bandgap semiconductors. This is the third year this topic has been included among the three Tuesday night rap sessions and this was possibly the most popular of the three sessions as the room was filled to capacity with approximately 450 individuals. Free unlimited beer helped fuel the session and keep things lively. Although the wide-bandgap topic was being revisited, the treatment of the subject has been evolving. The theme this year was “Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Devices in Power Electronics —Who, What, Where, When and Why?” Moreover, the focus narrowed to address just gallium nitride (GaN) because there is a widely held belief is that silicon carbide (SiC) is further along in finding its way and entering mainstream applications, especially in the higher voltage areas. The distinguished panelists this year included the usual representatives of semiconductor device manufacturers but also some representation from the power supply field with practicing design engineers in the group. Read the article»
Suman Datta, How2Power Today, Jan 2015
The IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) is considered the pre-eminent forum for reporting technological breakthroughs in the areas of semiconductor and electronic device technology, design, manufacturing, physics, and modeling. IEDM is the flagship conference for nanometer-scale CMOS transistor technology and much more. At the recent 2014 edition of this conference, power devices were among the topics receiving increased emphasis. The power devices discussed at IEDM not only encompassed silicon and compound semiconductors but also a wide range of voltage ratings to address even some of the highest-power applications.  Read the article»
Kenji Tsuda, Semiconductor Engineering, Sep 2014
This short article discusses the development of SiC power semiconductors in Japan, particularly the recent efforts by companies such as Loam and later Mitsubishi Denki, Fuji Denki, and Denso to develop components. These companies have lagged Cree and Infineon in bringing parts to market. Some actual applications for the Japanese companies’ chips are mentioned. There are also some awkwardkly worded descriptions of the benefits of SiC power devices and technology. Read the article»
Richard Stevenson, Compound Semiconductor, Jul 2014
At the CS Mantech conference held May 2014, researchers presented findings on GaN HEMT reliability testing and material quality. This article discusses those findings, starting with shortcomings of reliability testing including potential errors in estimating device lifetimes based on accelerated testing and too-small sample sizes. Also discussed are a survey of published results for MTTF for AlGaN/GaN HEMTs grown on SiC and related issues such as activation energies and failure mechanisms. With regard to material quality, this article reports on a structural degradation mechanism that leads to development of electrical pits close to the surface of devices; the use of a transmission electron microscope to identify point defects in HEMT structures; and a study of electron and hole traps in n-type GaN grown on various substrates.  Read the article»
no author specified, Compound Semiconductor, Jul 2014
Consisting of more than 100 companies led by GE , plus university researchers from the state, the New York Power Electronics Manufacturing Consortium (NY-PEMC) aims to develop low-cost, 6-inch silicon carbide (SiC) wafers. In addition to advancing SiC technology, the partnership is expected “to create thousands of new jobs in upstate New York,” according to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who announced the consortium. Read the article»
no author specified, Compound Semiconductor, Jul 2014
A market report by Yole Developpement forecasts a CAGR of 80% over the 2016 to 2020 period for sales of GaN-based power semiconductor devices. After some brief discussion of the currently available 200-V GaN on silicon devices, this short article on Yole’s report discusses the status of 600-V GaN HEMTs, which are said to be at least a year away from being qualified. This article describes expectations regarding target applications for the 600-V GaN devices, competing technologies like SiC MOSFETs, technical issues, pricing issues, and the need for multiple sources. This article also identifies key suppliers including some start-ups.  Read the article»
no author specified,, Jan 2014
President Obama announced the selection of North Carolina State University to lead a consortium of 7 universities and laboratories and 18 companies, which comprise this manufacturing innovation institute for next generation power electronics. The goal of this institute is “to invent and manufacture wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductor-based power electronics that are cost-competitive and 10 times more powerful than current silicon-based technology on the market.” In addition to describing the goals of this new organization and naming its members, this fact sheet offers an introduction to widebandgap semiconductors (including a short video and poster) for the lay man, explaining the energy savings and other benefits promised by widebandgap semiconductors in the targeted applications. Read the article»

Howard Sin, Power Systems Design, Nov 2013
This short article describes the benefits of a GaN power transistor developed by Panasonic. The Gate-Injection Transistor (GIT) technology on silicon substrate is used to fabricate a normally off device that eliminates the need for cascode structures and whose design prevents current collapse, allowing operation at high voltage. (The device has been tested up to 800 V.) The article explains current collapse; describes the GIT structure, how it works and how (in broad strokes) it overcomes current collapse. There is a comparison of FOM for the normally-off GIT GaN with that of a silicon MOSFET and the demonstration of the GaN transistor in a high efficiency 1-kW dc-dc converter is noted. Read the article»
Ashok Bindra, How2Power Today, Oct 2013
After months of sampling its 650-V normally-off source-switched FETs (SSFETs), RF Micro Devices (RFMD) plans to ramp up production of these devices by early next year and the company has readied a boost circuit evaluation board to help designers evaluate these parts. The company is also developing another eval board incorporating a totem pole power factor correction (PFC) circuit, which is expected to be launched at APEC 2014. RFMD is also readying new members in the 650-V GaN family with a 1200-V version on the roadmap. Meanwhile, Efficient Power Conversion has extended its family of high-speed, high-performance eGaN FETs with the addition of third-generation devices with switching transition speeds in the sub-nanosecond range. The recently released EPC8000 devices are capable of hard switching above 10 MHz. Bindra discusses these and other GaN power developments in this month’s column. Read the article»
Ashok Bindra, How2Power Today, Sep 2013
With the advent of 600-V and higher-voltage gallium nitride (GaN) based power devices, including diodes, manufacturers are developing GaN-based power modules that promise to overcome the limitations of bipolar and IGBT modules, which are bulky with large screw terminals and high-voltage spacing. It is observed that these conventional IGBT and bipolar modules limit performance in terms of speed, efficiency and density. Because high-voltage GaN-based power transistors and diodes offer faster switching, higher efficiency, and better power density, GaN power modules must overcome the limitations of bipolar and IGBT modules to realize the full benefits of the new technology. Consequently, GaN-based power devices are seeking new packaging solutions that enable smaller, faster, less lossy, and integrated modules that deliver optimum performance with cost effectiveness. Several applications appear ready to tap the benefits of GaN-based power modules. Read the article»
Ashok Bindra, How2Power Today, Aug 2013
The properties of wide bandgap materials like silicon carbide (SiC) and the devices derived from it have been well publicized. Because SiC-based transistors and diodes promise substantial performance improvements over their silicon counterparts, these devices are turning out to be very attractive to some power supply designers. However, as some designers in industry have discovered, SiC power transistors are not simple drop-in replacements for their silicon counterparts. The new devices have characteristics that are so different from silicon that transitioning to SiC components in power conversion designs is not a simple task. The changeover to SiC requires a thorough understanding of the device properties in order to fully tap their performance benefits. What’s more, if these devices are not implemented correctly in the end system, they could turn out to be a pain instead of a desirable solution. In this column, Bindra shares the insights of engineers in industry on the challenges of making the switch to SiC power transistors. Read the article»
John Roberts, GaN Systems, Aug 2013
This short article explains why many of the emerging players in the GaN power semiconductor field are adopting the cascode configuration to implement the emerging GaN power devices of the high-voltage variety (about 600 V). Rather than offering these lateral GaN HEMTs as discrete transistors, companies are co-packaging them with low-voltage silicon MOSFETs and offering them as modules. This is done for ease of use, which the author explains in terms of lessons learned with low-voltage GaN transistors and by citing specific device characteristics. But the most interesting passage in this article may be the specs comparison of a 50-milliohm, 650-V GaN cascode device with a 50-milliohm, 600-V superjunction silicon MOSFET pair. The article concludes with a description of the GaN cascode power device’s two quadrant operation, also noting the value of this capability in the bridgeless totem pole PFC topology.  Read the article»
John Roberts, Bodo's Power Systems, Jul 2013
Tempted by market opportunities, GaN device vendors are rushing high-voltage (600 V) GaN power transistors to market under a veil of secrecy and without fully addressing all the technical issues. In this insightful commentary, the author discusses GaN voltage ratings in light of industry experience with SiC devices, and how it suggests the need for greater derating of parts until the technology matures. The author also explains why blocking voltage (as determined by leakage current limits) establishes the true voltage rating for a device. Also discussed are the following market or industry requirements: an improved cascode circuit using GaN devices rather silicon SJ MOSFETs; slew-rate control; hybrid integration using QFN packaging; a standardized package with source sense connection and minimized loop inductance; and standards for device qualification. Though the author is with GaN Systems, he cites the opinions of authorities at other GaN companies and other vendors’ developments.  Read the article»
Alex Lidow, Power Electronics World, Jun 2013
The title and deck suggest this article is about the benefits of eliminating the package for GaN power HEMTs. Actually, it’s the story of the eGaN FET and one of its creators, Alex Lidow. This is part technical history, part memoir, with interesting details about why, where, when and who developed this technology. The story takes us all the way back to Lidow’s time as a grad student at Stanford through his development of the silicon power MOSFET at International Rectifier and his many years there. Lidow relates the lessons learned along the way and how they were brought to bear in developing the enhancement-mode, lateral GaN HEMTs at Efficient Power Conversion (EPC). Lidow recounts the founding of EPC, the early development of the eGaN FETs (what EPC calls their HEMTs), details about these devices, and EPC’s efforts in bringing them to market. Yes, you’ll also learn why they offer their transistors in a “package-less” LGA format, and other technical decisions. But it’s the personal story behind these decisions that makes this an interesting read. Read the article»
Ashok Bindra, How2Power Today, Jun 2013
Since gallium nitride (GaN) based power devices have a vast potential to grow in usage, this market opportunity continues to attract more new suppliers. As a result, the list of manufacturers of GaN technology based power devices is steadily expanding. In this column, Bindra uncovers more players who have entered the GaN power arena to join the pioneers International Rectifier and Efficient Power Conversion. With the addition of newcomers like GaN Systems, NXP Semiconductors, ON Semiconductor, Panasonic, and Toshiba there are now some dozen or so GaN device manufacturers who are either in the production phase or are planning to take their GaN-based power devices to production. That list is presented here in a unique table listing GaN device suppliers and the types of devices they offer Read the article»
Ashok Bindra, How2Power Today, May 2013
While the power electronics market performed poorly last year with a 20% decline in revenues, the silicon carbide (SiC) device market exhibited a 38% increase. Looking ahead, market research firm Yole Développement is predicting SiC devices will grow at a 30% CAGR between 2015 and 2020 with the SiC device market crossing the $600 million mark by 2020. In this column, Bindra discusses the applications that are driving this growth as well as the growth in the number of SiC device and wafer suppliers. Tables provided here list these companies and the types of components and wafers they are offering.  Read the article»
Ashok Bindra, How2Power Today, Apr 2013
In last month’s column, Bindra reported on the silicon carbide-based devices and solutions featured in the technology showcase of ARPA-E’s Energy Innovation Summit. In this issue, he discusses the gallium nitride (GaN) based devices and solutions exhibited by companies such as Delphi, HRL Laboratories, and Transphorm as well as universities such as MIT and Virginia Tech. These exhibits illustrate how the development of GaN power semiconductors is enabling creation of highly advanced power converters for electric vehicles, LED lighting, solar power, and other applications. Read the article»

Ashok Bindra, How2Power Today, Mar 2013
The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has been holding its Energy Innovation Summit for the past three years. At this year’s event, some promising silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) based devices and solutions were highlighted in the summit’s technology showcase. Among the companies and R&D institutions exhibiting ARPA-E funded ultra-high voltage SiC achievements were GeneSiC Semiconductor, Silicon Power, and Cree. These firms are exploiting the advantages of silicon carbide to create novel thyristors and IGBTs that promise to dramatically improve the power electronics developed for grid applications. Meanwhile, another ARPA-E awardee, Arkansas Power Electronics International, displayed its highly integrated SiC modules for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Read the article»
Ashok Bindra, How2Power Today, Feb 2013
Recently there has been much discussion about the emergence of gallium nitride (GaN) based FETs and diodes. With improvements in processing, power devices based on this new material have moved from research to the production floor. In this column, Bindra describes how that reality will be reflected on the exhibit floor of the upcoming APEC conference. As Bindra reports, power supply and motor drive demos will signal the entry of high-performance system products based on these wide-bandgap power devices. Suppliers like Transphorm and Efficient Power Conversion will give attendees a closer look at what is here today in terms of real world power products. Read the article»
Ashok Bindra, How2Power Today, Jan 2013
This year’s Advanced Power Electronics Conference (APEC) will shed new light on recent progress in silicon, as well as compound semiconductor devices. It will kick off with plenary talks from B. Jayant Baliga and other authorities addressing a number of power semiconductor developments. Of particular interest is Baliga’s talk, which will focus on the IGBT’s role in creating a sustainable world-wide society with improved living standards. In addition, in the industry and lecture sessions, presentations on gallium nitride (GaN) FETs and silicon carbide (SiC) MOSFETs will look beyond what is available today and discuss the emerging applications facilitated by these devices. Bindra previews some of the more interesting talks here.  Read the article»
Ashok Bindra, How2Power Today, Dec 2012
It may take some time before the emerging gallium nitride on silicon (GaN-on-Si) based power FETs enter the mainstream power conversion space. But in the meantime, a handful of emerging applications are poised to tap the benefits of this promising power technology, as Bindra explains in this column. Here he discusses some of the emerging applications that are exploiting the attributes of GaN technology such as wireless power transmission, RF envelope tracking, rad hard satellite and avionics power supplies, light detection and ranging (LIDAR) systems, and high-stepdown-ratio buck converters.  Read the article»
Ashok Bindra, How2Power Today, Nov 2012
An important development in the commercialization of silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) power technology is the introduction of power modules based on these technologies. One such device from Cree is among the new SiC and GaN power products that were unveiled at the Electronica show last week in Munich. In this column, Bindra reports on this all-SiC module as well as other SiC devices introduced at the show. He also discusses Fujitsu Semiconductor’s claim of a 2.5-kW server power supply built using the company’s GaN on silicon devices and the vendor’s plans to take its GaN power devices to full production in the second half of 2013. Read the article»
Ashok Bindra, How2Power Today, Oct 2012
Despite gains made in silicon carbide (SiC) technology, it continues to represent a very small percentage of the overall power semiconductor market. By some accounts, it could be less than 1%. But, going forward, the situation looks a lot brighter. With both SiC MOSFETs and diodes now available, and wafer makers continuing to deliver high-quality substrate materials while increasing the diameter, SiC is poised for rapid growth in the next five to ten years as usage proliferates in applications ranging from PFCs and UPSs to solar inverters to EVs/HEVs, motor drives, and others. Read the article»
Philip Zuk, Director of Market Development, High-Voltage Group, Vishay Siliconix, Jun 2012
Many are trying to forecast the impact of SiC and GaN technology on the power semiconductor market. This article, which is written by a supplier of silicon MOSFETs and IGBTs (with no SiC or GaN at the time of publication), aims to reassure engineers that SiC and GaN transistors will not supplant silicon MOSFETs and IGBTs. Instead, both old and new technologies will co-exist. It argues that the silicon technologies offer ruggedness, pricing and performance that will continue to keep them relevant in the face of new SiC and GaN introductions. Spread across 10 printed pages, this online article contains much interesting technical information including descriptions and comparisons of planar and SJ silicon MOSFETs and IGBTs, tradeoffs in their design, and their applications; characteristics of SiC and GaN materials; issues surrounding manufacturing of SiC and GaN power devices (mainly substrate issues), pricing and more. Much of this technical discussion should still be relevant, except for the descriptions of available SiC and GaN devices. Given the many GaN product introductions in the past few years, that information is out of date.  Read the article»
Ashok Bindra, How2Power Today, May 2012
In Bindra’s last column, he wrote about the growing list of suppliers of gallium nitride (GaN) based power devices, both transistors and diodes. In this issue, he adds one more to the list—RF Micro Devices (RFMD) and discusses the technology they recently announced at PCIM Europe. At this event, the RF semiconductor supplier unwrapped its newest GaN process technology called rGaN-HV, optimized for high-voltage, high-power devices for power conversion applications.  Read the article»
Ashok Bindra, How2Power Today, Mar 2012
Although, gallium nitride (GaN) power technology and devices have been in development for the last few years, production has been rather slow because of factors such as cost, reliability, capacity and too few suppliers. But according to a report by market research firm Yole Développement, the market for GaN-based power devices is poised for rapid growth in just a few years as new suppliers go from device qualification to production ramp up. In this column, Bindra discusses Yole’s forecast for the GaN wafer and device markets, identifies the growing pool of suppliers, and looks at the possible impact of some key applications. Read the article»
Ashok Bindra, How2Power Today, May 2011
For the last few years, we have heard a lot about the benefits of gallium nitride (GaN) technology and the virtues of GaN-based power FETs and HEMTs. The reliability of these transistors has also been improving significantly, while the cost factor has been declining as developers migrate to larger silicon substrates. In this column, Bindra examines recent GaN product developments from established and new suppliers. He also identifies the companies that are expected to soon join the supplier base as the technology moves up in voltage to address a wider range of applications. Bindra also looks at how the new GaN power devices are faring in the marketplace by discussing some of the applications where product manufacturers have begun to adopt these components as silicon replacements.  Read the article»
Ashok Bindra, How2Power Today, Apr 2011
This year represents a turning point for SiC power technology as commercial power transistors have emerged to complement SiC Schottky diodes, which have been around for a few years now. Targeting applications requiring breakdown voltages of 600 V and above, manufacturers have begun to commercialize high-voltage SiC power transistors. At the same time, new players have announced entry into this space where designers are exploring every angle to get the next level of improvement in energy efficiency with a higher degree of ruggedness and the ability to withstand much higher temperatures. In this column, Bindra explores recent activity in SiC development that is giving these devices a new boost.  Read the article»
SiC and GaN Design Articles

View design articles discussing the application of silicon carbide and gallium nitride diodes and transistors in power supply applications.

SiC & GaN Power Component News

Articles about new SiC and GaN power components from the pages of HOW2POWER TODAY.

Conferences And Trade Shows in 2017 Addressing SiC & GaN Power Devices

SiC and GaN Source Lists

GaN Power Device Manufacturers. A chart listing manufacturers and their device offering:

GaN Power Device Manufacturers

SiC Power Device Manufacturers. A chart listing manufacturers and their device offering:

SiC Power Device Manufacturers.

SiC and GaN Power Books

Fundamentals of Silicon Carbide Technology: Growth, Characterization, Devices and Applications, Tsunenobu Kimoto, James A. Cooper, IEEE Press-Wiley, ISBN 978-1-118-31352-7, glossy hardback, 538 pages, 2014.
Reviewed by Dennis Feucht, How2Power Today, June 2012
This book is obviously about the new and emerging silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductor technology. While SiC (and also GaN) are emphasized in it as semiconductor materials, the book also has good general coverage of semiconductor electronics, beginning with crystal structure and developing through solid-state physics, device processes and processing, semiconductor diodes, BJTs, power JFETs, IGBTs, MOSFETs, MESFETs, conductivity-modulated FETs or COMFETs and other types. The devices are explained in gratifying detail, which is something that may also be said of the authors’ treatment of other topics ranging from wafer and device fabrication to defect characterization to device modeling and circuit applications. Read the review»

GaN Transistors for Efficient Power Conversion, First Edition by Alex Lidow, Johan Strydom, Michael de Rooij, and Yanping Ma, with a forward by Sam Davis.
Reviewed by Dennis Feucht, How2Power Today, June 2012
Enhancement-mode gallium-nitride (eGaN) MOSFETs are now transitioning from research to commercial use and, given their characteristics, are bound to be of major significance to power electronics engineers. Among their most-notable attributes: they are fast. This book offers an introduction to eGaN MOSFETs, which are devices that have been brought to market by Efficient Power Conversion (EPC.) While this text is by no means complete, it offers readers a good first step in learning about an important new power device. Read the review»

SiC and GaN Technology Roadmaps

Within this 26-page PowerPoint presentation from Yole  Développement in April 2013, there are multiple technology roadmaps for SiC and GaN power devices. Slide 4 places expected SiC and GaN developments in the context of 50 years of power device development. Slide 5 shows potential applications for SiC and GaN  arranged by power levels . Slide 7 indicates the involvement of the top 23 power semi suppliers in SiC and GaN. Slide 11 charts the status of SiC device makers in bringing products to mass production. Slide 14 charts SiC device penetration into various applications. Slide 16 charts the status of GaN-on-Si device makers  in bringing products to mass production. Slide 18 charts GaN product introductions by vendor. Slide 19 charts implementation of GaN materials in power electronics applications. Slide 21 (much discussed at APEC 2013) projects the positioning of SiC, GaN and silicon MOSFETs by voltage and solution type. Slide 22 charts SiC power device market size by application. Slide 23 charts GaN device market size by application. Read more»

The R&D Partnership for Future Power Electronics Technology (FUPET),  an alliance of industry and academic organizations working to develop silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductor technology, has developed this roadmap projecting developments of SiC wafers, devices, and systems through 2020 and beyond. On the same page, you’ll also find a low loss inverter development roadmap. Read more»

Not a roadmap in the conventional sense of a chart, this ECCE 2009 conference paper by Cree engineers discusses efforts spearheaded by U.S. Air Force Research Lab, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, and DARPA to develop high-power and/or high-voltage SiC power modules using Cree’s silicon carbide die in combination with Powerex’s module technology. First, a 1.2-kV, 100-A all-SiC half H-bridge, high-temperature power module is described with performance compared to a silicon IGBT module. Then, the paper discusses development of a 1.2-kV, 880-A SiC power module, which is described as “one of the first SiC modules with a power rating of 1 MW” and also as a “stepping stone” to development of  a SiC MOSFET module with a 1600-A rating (2 MW). Finally, the paper describes a 10-kV, 50-A SiC dual power switch module being developed for application in a solid-state power substation. Read more»

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