ECPE SiC & GaN User Forum 'Potential of Wide Bandgap Semiconductors in Power Electronic Applications'
held in the frame of the ECPE Annual Event on 26-27 March 2019 in Erding/Munich
The ECPE Annual Event is organized alternately in conjunction with the CIPS Conference or with the SiC & GaN User Form. This year, it was the turn of the User Forum addressing the potential of wide bandgap semiconductors in power electronic applications. It was already the 8th User Forum ECPE has organized since 2006. The major interest of more than 300 participants, after 250 participants in 2017, shows that wide bandgap power electronics has gained momentum. SiC and GaN power devices with industrial maturity are available on the market and have arrived at a variety of industrial applications. After the presentation of SiC systems and applications in the previous years, special aspects gain importance, such as robustness or qualification when exposed to demanding mission profiles. Ongoing research and development work is dedicated e. g. to increase voltage and current ratings of SiC devices, to GaN devices including their integration, the respective packaging technology and of course to the applications.
SiC devices have proven to be beneficial for applications in transportation - in particular automobiles with electric drive, and on a higher power level railway - as they permit to increase efficiency and power density. SiC transistors and diodes may serve in traction converters or power supplies there. Photovoltaic inverters constitute another important application. Besides, also special applications have been addressed with the high frequency induction heating. Converters in the medium voltage grid are currently investigated as a future option. GaN transistors will mainly be rated up to 650V and used up to voltage levels as supplied by the 230V single phase grid, e. g. for hard switching power factor correction and similar power supply applications.
Further aspects of WBG power electronics concern the cooling concept, partially permitting to replace fluid by air cooling, or the isolation within the converter and beyond, e. g. in an electrical machine, taking into account the applied voltages and their high change rates. Careful parallel connection of relatively small wide bandgap devices may be required to achieve a high current capability. Furthermore, advanced packaging and system integration for SiC and GaN power device, modules and systems is a key topic for the future including the embedding of power chips or pre-packages for chip-scale packages or more conventional power module solutions with minimized parasitics.
Conclusion: The ECPE SiC & GaN User Forum 2019 again has illustrated the fast development of wide bandgap power semiconductors. This is beneficial for power electronics as a key technology in various areas, such as energy efficiency, usage of renewable sources for electric energy supply, e-mobility and automation. Both, SiC and GaN devices are available and in particular SiC devices are well qualified and widely applied in commercial products. Nevertheless, research, development and also standardization are ongoing to further explore the possibilities of wide bandgap devices in power electronics. The European Center for Power Electronics (ECPE) is a stakeholder in this area, bringing together industrial partners and research institutions.
The ECPE Annual Event 2020 will be held end of March 2020 in Berlin together with the 11th CIPS International Conference on Integrated Power Electronic Systems (https://www.cips.eu).