Debunking Silicon Carbide (SiC) Myths: The Real Story

By Jamie Pederson, Technical Content Manager at Avnet
Credit | Getty
Credit | Getty
Electronic services expert Avnet unmasks myths and explores the truth about SiC technology, its versatility, booming ecosystem & advantages over IGBTs

For over a century, Avnet has supported hundreds of the biggest names in electronics. When it comes to getting a product to your customers, it can feel like a pretty big world out there. But through comprehensive support along every step of your product’s journey, Avnet helps you make it a little smaller. Connect with Avnet to find the support services at every stage of your journey.

Silicon Carbide (SiC) technology has been making waves, however, there are several myths surrounding SiC that need to be debunked. We delve into these myths and uncover the real story about SiC.

Myth 1: SiC is only valuable as a replacement for silicon IGBTs

Some believe that SiC is exclusively for replacing silicon IGBTs. However, SiC MOSFETs, rated at 650 V, offer exceptional performance and are a competitive alternative to silicon MOSFETs in various applications, such as totem-pole power factor correction and synchronous boost.

Myth 2: SiC has little value in high-frequency applications

SiC initially gained popularity in lower-frequency, high-power applications. Recent advancements have made it suitable for high-frequency (>100 kHz) operation. It's successfully used in power factor correction at 100 kHz and soft-switching LLC at 200 to 300 kHz.

Myth 3: SiC devices face supply-chain restrictions

Supply chains for SiC devices have strengthened in recent years, ensuring availability. Companies like onsemi have made substantial investments to meet the growing demand for SiC technology.

Myth 4: SiC is only suited to high-end niche applications

SiC benefits extend beyond niche applications. It's used in designs like EV onboard chargers, solar PV modules, and cloud computing due to the need for increased power density and efficiency.

Myth 5: SiC doesn't have a fully developed ecosystem

SiC's ecosystem is rapidly evolving. Commercially available SiC devices and gate drivers come in various packaging styles, and the knowledge base is growing.

Myth 6: SiC FET gate drivers are complex

This comes from early designs where SiC products were being driven by methods intended for silicon MOSFETs. Modern SiC drivers offer convenient features, making SiC easier to drive than ever before.

Myth 7: SiC requires a negative turn-off gate voltage

While negative turn-off gate voltage is a best practice, it's not always necessary. Good layout practices and high gate-driver sink current can ensure proper SiC device performance.

Myth 8: Junction-isolated gate drivers are adequate for all SiC designs

While this may be true for a limited number of applications, galvanically isolated gate drivers offer enhanced noise immunity and are a wise choice for robust SiC designs.

Myth 9: SiC is less robust than silicon IGBTs

It’s difficult to make a direct comparison to IGBTs, but SiC's wide bandgap enables better avalanche ruggedness, although it has a shorter short-circuit withstand time. Proper SiC gate drivers ensure system ruggedness.

Myth 10: SiC solutions are too expensive

While SiC devices may have a slight price premium, the overall cost savings in components like inductors and capacitors make them a cost-effective choice. SiC solutions also offer higher efficiency, reducing the need for bulky heatsinks.

Myth 11: Increasing voltages are a problem for SiC

SiC is adaptable to higher voltages, with devices optimised for fast switching in applications. onsemi developed a range of 1700V M1 planer devices which are optimised for fast switching applications.

In conclusion, SiC technology is not limited to niche applications or IGBT replacements. More insight is available in our whitepaper, Thermal Management in Silicon Carbide (SiC) Designs.

Disclosure: This article is an advertorial and monetary payment was received from Avnet. It has gone through editorial control and passed the assessment for being informative.

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