R&D project readies SiC modules for volume production of electric vehicles

October 07, 2019 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
R&D project readies SiC modules for volume production of electric vehicles
Silicon carbide has been tested for years as a promising alternative material for power semiconductors. However, it has not yet really arrived in the series production of electric vehicles. The Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM now wants to change this: Together with industrial partners, the researchers want to get SiC technology on its way to industrial production.

Three factors are decisive for power electronics in electric vehicles: space, weight and efficiency. Silicon carbide (SiC) fulfills all conditions, because it enables higher efficiency and can be installed more compactly than conventional semiconductors such as silicon.

Nevertheless, there is still no (or better, almost no) series-produced e-car on the road today in which SiC semiconductors are installed; the semiconductor material has so far only been used in research environments. In order to be able to use this material in industrial production as well, the Fraunhofer SiC Module research project is incorporating certain framework conditions of industrial production from the outset. For example, the module that researchers at Fraunhofer IZM are developing is based on a classical printed circuit board structure that is already established in industry and easy to implement.

At the same time, the latest research findings are implemented in the module: The semiconductor is not contacted with a wire bond connection, but is embedded directly into the circuit via a galvanically produced copper contact, so that the connection distance can be shortened and the contact parameter optimized. Here, too, the research team involves potential industrial customers in the development process: In the first year of the project, a requirement specification was drawn up in which the electrical, thermal and performance requirements for the module and semiconductors were defined. The specifications that the product must meet were drawn up by the researchers in close cooperation with users from the automotive industry.

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