Power Semiconductors Weekly Vol. 98

New All-in-One Hybrid Power Drive Module Solution from Microchip

Aircraft manufacturers designing More Electric Aircraft (MEA) are looking to convert the flight control systems from hydraulic to electric to reduce weight and design complexities. To meet the needs for an integrated and configurable power solution for aviation applications, Microchip Technology Inc. announced a new comprehensive hybrid power drive module, the first variant introduced in the new product line of power devices that will be available in 12 different variants with either silicon carbide (SiC) MOSFETs or insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs). 

These hybrid power drive modules are highly integrated power semiconductor devices that reduce the number of components and simplify the overall system design. The configurable power devices include a three-bridge topology that are available in SiC or Si semiconductor technologies. Offering a compact design and low weight and profile, these high-reliability power devices help reduce the size and weight of MEAs.

Other key capabilities of these hybrid power drive modules include numerous auxiliary power devices that facilitate an inrush current limit function. Optional add-on capabilities include soft start, solenoid interface drive, regenerative brake switch and thermal sensors for external monitoring circuitry usage. The power modules also facilitate high-switching frequency power generation, which enables smaller and more efficient systems.

The standard voltage of the power modules ranges from 650V to 1200V, with the option to customize up to 1700V on request. The device is designed for low inductances for high-power density with power and signal connectors that are solderable directly on the user’s printed circuit board.

“Microchip is committed to developing products that serve as the building block to implement lighter, more compact and highly efficient system solutions in aviation,” said Leon Gross, corporate vice president of Microchip’s discrete power management business unit. “The hybrid power drive modules deliver a comprehensive power solution for our customers who are designing More Electric Aircraft.”

Microchip is a proven supplier of comprehensive power solutions. These hybrid power drive modules are easily configurable with other Microchip products and parts, such as field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), memory integrated circuits, motor drive controllers and motor drive monitoring integrated circuits.

AIST Demonstrates World’s First Hybrid Transistor Integrating GaN and SiC

Power converters that control electric energy are important devices that enable energy saving in equipment that uses electric energy, such as home appliances and industrial equipment. Dissemination of electric vehicles, photovoltaic power generation, and other technology is needed to realize carbon neutrality by 2050, and the power converters used in these applications will require even greater efficiency, miniaturization, and reliability than at present. To achieve this, further technological innovation is also essential for the power transistors used in power converters.

AIST Demonstrates World’s First Hybrid Transistor Integrating GaN and SiC

Power transistors are used as electrical switches in power conversion circuits, so the following three performances are required.

  • Low on-resistance to reduce conduction loss in the switch-ON state for highly efficient power conversion
  • High-speed ON/OFF switching performance to reduce switching loss
  • Role as a noise energy absorption source under abnormal converter circuit operations

In silicon transistors, which are currently the main type of power transistors, the performances above have almost reached the material limits. Therefore, R&D has been conducted on power transistors using wide bandgap semiconductors such as GaN and SiC, toward overcoming the Si limits.

A hybrid transistor with monolithically integrated a GaN-based high electron mobility transistor and a SiC-based PN diode, was successfully fabricated and demonstrated by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) researchers for the first time in the world. The prototype hybrid transistor achieves both the GaN feature of low on-resistance and the proven non-destructive breakdown of SiC diodes. As a result, application of hybrid transistors is expected to power converters for applications that require high reliability, such as electric vehicles and photovoltaic power generation. Going forward, further optimization of the device fabrication process will be promoted to establish a path to practical application.

Bosch to Invest Over $1 billion in E-mobility Capacities in China

Bosch has announced that it will invest around one billion US dollars over several years in the development and production of components for electromobility and automated driving in China – and will build a centre for research, development and production in Suzhou for this purpose.

The subsidiary Bosch Automotive Products will be responsible for building the facility at the existing Bosch site in the city of Suzhou, west of Shanghai. The centre, long-titled “Bosch R&D and Manufacturing Base for New Energy Vehicles Core Components and Automated Driving”, will cover 300,000 square metres and, according to an official company statement, focus primarily on electrified drive products with the latest SiC power modules, integrated braking systems and solutions for automated driving. The first phase of construction is to be completed by mid-2024.

Bosch mentions around one billion US dollars or around seven billion yuan – the equivalent of around 950 million euros – as the investment sum. According to the German publication Handelsblatt, this is the second-largest single investment in the company’s history after the chip factory in Dresden. “China is the world’s largest auto market, full of promise and vitality. As a multinational enterprise, we need to make full use of the country’s local R&D capability and production capacity,” says Bosch Chairman of the Board Stefan Hartung, commenting on the move. Hartung is also responsible for Bosch’s China business on the board of management.

“Through continuous development in China, Bosch will further expand its global competitiveness and create a solid foundation for the road to the future of mobility,” Hartung added. Since Bosch Suzhou was founded in 1999, Bosch says it has continuously expanded its investments in the city and deepened its cooperation with local partners. According to the Handelsblatt, 10,000 people are currently employed in four plants in Suzhou. The German company also emphasises that it is leading the way in transforming the entire car industry in the city into a modern sector.

According to Yudong Chen, president of Bosch China, the investment will enable the company to “better respond to the fast-changing and demanding demand of the local market”. Bosch remains true to its “local for local” development strategy in order to deepen its roots in the local market and support China’s path to future electrified and intelligent mobility.

It is precisely this latter statement that does not meet with enthusiasm everywhere. The Handelsblatt writes of a threatening one-sided dependence on China. The passage in the wording: “The silicon carbide power modules are particularly delicate. Bosch is the only automotive supplier to build silicon carbide chips itself. With Bosch’s power electronics, the Chinese manufacturers of electric cars will become even more powerful and thus more dominant on their home market than they already are. Recently, German carmakers have been losing significant market share in the Chinese market, especially in electric cars.”

Bosch is recording strong annual increases in revenues in the field of electromobility. In 2021, the Group registered an order volume of more than ten billion euros in the e-mobility sector for the first time. The figures for 2022 are not yet available. In addition to drive solutions, Bosch sees a particularly lucrative market in hydrogen components. In May 2022, the company announced its intention to enter the development of components for electrolysers. As is known, Bosch has never entered the battery cell market.

Wolfspeed Plans a Chip Factory in Germany

U.S. power chip maker Wolfspeed Inc. is planning to build a factory in Germany for more than 2 billion euros ($2.17 billion). The German auto supplier ZF is said to hold a minority stake.

Wolfspeed Fab in Germany

According to the available information, production should begin in four years at the site in the small southwest German state of Saarland.

So far, the project was not officially confirmed by any of the parties involved.

Haviv Ilan to Become Next President and CEO of Texas Instruments

Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) announced that its board of directors has selected Haviv Ilan to become the company’s next president and chief executive officer (CEO), effective April 1. Ilan, a 24-year veteran of TI, succeeds current CEO and president, Richard Templeton, who will transition out of these roles over the next two months but will remain the company’s chairman. The transition is a well-planned succession that follows Ilan’s promotion to senior vice president in 2014, executive vice president and chief operating officer in 2020 and election to the board of directors in 2021.

“Haviv is an inspiring leader who is widely respected amongst our customers, employees and shareholders,” Templeton said. “He has a proven track record of delivering results, an intense focus on innovation and a passion to win, all of which make him an exceptional leader. The board and I are confident that Haviv is the right person to serve as TI’s next CEO and further strengthen the company for the long term.”

“I am honored to lead TI during this amazing time for our company and our industry,” said Ilan. “The combination of our broad portfolio of products, strong foundation of manufacturing and technology, reach of market channels and diverse and long-lived positions all put TI in a unique class of companies. Our ambitions and values will continue to be integral to how we build TI stronger and when we are successful, our employees, customers, communities and shareholders all benefit.”

“The board views succession planning as one of its vital responsibilities, and today’s announcement represents a thoughtful and well-planned transition. Haviv is well-known to the board, and is a demonstrated leader with deep business, technical and market knowledge and has a strong foundation of ethics and values,” said Pam Patsley, lead director of the TI board and chair of the compensation committee. “TI’s strategy, operations and financial discipline set the company apart from others in the industry. The company is well-positioned for growth thanks to Rich’s vision and leadership during his 18-year tenure as CEO. Rich transformed the company by reshaping the focus to analog and embedded processing, establishing an unparalleled discipline around capital allocation and growing free cash flow per share by a factor of more than six. He leaves an incredible legacy at TI and across the industry, and we look forward to continuing to benefit from his leadership and insights as executive chairman.”

Semikron Danfoss Webinar: Benefits of Schottky Barrier Diodes

In recent years, silicon carbide Schottky barrier diodes are increasingly used in high power applications. These devices differ fundamentally from traditional silicon pn diodes. This Semikron Danfoss webinar explains the behavior differences and how to take advantage of these differences in a converter.

Key Take-Aways:

  • What are the key differences between SiC SBDs and Si pn diodes?
  • How are SiC SBDs effectively used in power electronic circuits?
  • How do SiC SBDs perform in combination with other device types?
  • Date: February 14, 2023
  • Time: 4 PM CET

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