The third-generation semiconductors represented by Silicon Carbide have superior performance such as high frequency, high efficiency, high power, high-pressure resistance, high-temperature resistance, and strong radiation resistance, which are in line with major national strategies such as energy-saving and emission reduction, intelligent manufacturing, and information security. Demand is the key core materials and electronic components that support the independent innovation development, transformation, and upgrading of industries such as the new generation of mobile communications, new energy vehicles, high-speed rail trains, and energy Internet, and has become the focus of global semiconductor technology and industry competition.
Silicon Carbide Has Obvious Performance Advantages
Silicon Carbide has a bandgap of 3 times that of silicon, which makes the leakage current of Silicon Carbide devices significantly less than that of silicon devices, thereby reducing power loss. Secondly, Silicon Carbide is resistant to high voltage, and the Silicon Carbide breakdown electric field strength is more than 10 times that of silicon. Finally, Silicon Carbide is resistant to high temperatures. Silicon Carbide has a higher thermal conductivity than silicon, making it easier to dissipate heat from the device. However, the cost of various Silicon Carbide devices is still 2.4 to 8 times higher than that of Si-based devices. Among them, the cost of substrate and epitaxy account for the largest proportion, accounting for 47% and 23% respectively.
From the perspective of global silicon carbide (Silicon Carbide) substrate companies, in 2018, the US CREE company took the lead with a market share of 62%, followed by the US II-VI company with a market share of about 16%. Overall, in the silicon carbide market, American manufacturers occupy a dominant position.
Electric Vehicles Promote the Explosion of Silicon Carbide Market
Silicon carbide, another important product of third-generation semiconductors, will benefit from the rapid growth of the electric vehicle industry and usher in an explosion opportunity.
With the development of new energy vehicles, the demand for power semiconductor devices will increase day by day. According to Infineon's statistics, the average value of semiconductor devices used in a traditional fuel vehicle is US$355, while the value of semiconductor devices used in new energy vehicles is US$695, almost doubled. Among them, the increase in power devices is the most significant. The US dollar increased to 265 US dollars, an increase of nearly 15 times. At present, most of the power semiconductors on new energy vehicles sold on the market are silicon-based devices, such as silicon-based IGBTs and silicon-based MOSFETs. As technology and products mature, third-generation semiconductors will gradually replace most silicon-based products.
In 2019, the application of third-generation semiconductor power electronic devices represented by Silicon Carbide in the field of electric vehicles has made rapid progress. There are more than 20 car manufacturers in the world using Silicon Carbide devices in on-board chargers. Tesla Model 3 inverters use full Silicon Carbide power modules produced by STMicroelectronics. All car manufacturers are planning for the next few years. Apply Silicon Carbide power electronics in the main inverter. In terms of charging infrastructure, Delta has teamed up with General Motors to develop a 400kW ultra-fast charging system (XFC) using Silicon Carbide power semiconductor devices. In terms of electric drive, Cree has joined hands with ZF to promote cooperation in the field of electric drives. The two parties reached a strategic cooperation agreement to promote the development of electric drive powertrains using Silicon Carbide-based inverters.
Application of Silicon Carbide in Photovoltaic Industry
In photovoltaic power generation applications, the cost of traditional inverters based on silicon-based devices accounts for about 10% of the system, but it is one of the main sources of system energy loss. Photovoltaic inverters that use silicon carbide MOSFETs or power modules combined with silicon carbide MOSFETs and silicon carbide SBDs can increase the conversion efficiency from 96% to more than 99%, reduce energy consumption by more than 50%, and increase the cycle life of equipment by 50 times. Reduce system volume, increase power density, extend device service life, and reduce production costs. High efficiency, high power density, high reliability, and low cost are the future development trends of photovoltaic inverters. In string and centralized photovoltaic inverters, silicon carbide products are expected to gradually replace silicon-based devices.
The silicon carbide industry chain can be divided into three industrial links, one is the upstream substrate, the second is the midstream epitaxial wafer, and the third is the manufacturing of downstream devices. Looking at the entire silicon carbide industry, the United States, Japan, and Europe are in a tripartite state, and oligarchic competition is obvious. Among them, the United States is the world's largest, accounting for 70% to 80% of global Silicon Carbide production. The CREE market share in the silicon carbide wafer market is as high as 60%; Europe has a complete Silicon Carbide substrate, epitaxy, device, and application industrial chain. The global power electronics market has a strong voice; Japan is an absolute leader in equipment and module development. Since the 1980s, developed countries such as the United States, Japan, and Europe have always placed wide-bandgap semiconductor technology at an extremely important strategic position in order to maintain their status as powerhouses in aerospace, military, and technology. System capabilities. These countries and regions have taken the lead in the world in the field of silicon carbide semiconductors.
Domestic Silicon Carbide Semiconductor Companies Are Trying Their Best to Catch Up
Compared with the United States, Japan, and Europe, although my country's silicon carbide companies still lack technology and production capacity, China has the world's largest consumer market, and its growth rate is higher than the world average. China's third-generation semiconductor industry has grown rapidly since 2015. From the perspective of the terminal market, future applications will be widely expanded to artificial intelligence, new energy vehicles, autonomous driving, 5G technology, and the Internet of Vehicles. The penetration of third-generation semiconductor devices in emerging application fields is rapid, and the progress of domestic marketization is significantly faster than abroad. At present, my country's silicon carbide industry chain has begun to take shape and has the foundation for the industrialization of silicon carbide. Domestic companies are expected to achieve corner overtaking in local market applications.
Silicon Carbide semiconductors have a wide range of potential applications and have potential application prospects in new energy vehicles, photovoltaics, and other fields. As downstream industries continue to increase demand for semiconductor power devices with lightweight, high conversion efficiency, and low heat generation characteristics, it is inevitable for Silicon Carbide to replace Si in power devices.
However, there are still many common problems in the field of silicon carbide power devices that need to be broken through, such as the high prices of silicon carbide single crystal and epitaxial materials, the problem of material defects still not completely solved, the difficulty of manufacturing silicon carbide devices, and the process of high-pressure silicon carbide devices. Immature, device packaging cannot meet the needs of high-frequency and high-temperature applications, there is still a certain gap between global silicon carbide technology and industry maturity, which restricts the pace of expansion of the silicon carbide device market to a certain extent. Silicon carbide materials have unique characteristics such as high-temperature resistance, corrosion resistance, and good thermal conductivity, and have a very wide range of application prospects. As the third-generation semiconductor materials, silicon carbide has attracted more and more attention and has become a research hotspot at home and abroad.
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