Someday, in the not-so-distant future, electric cars will be as ubiquitous as SUVs. With the right technology, these EVs will get a full charge in approximately the same amount of time to fill a tank of gas and their sticker prices will be competitive with their gas-guzzling counterparts. Though we’re not there yet, Wolfspeed is developing the technology to make this future possible. Wolfspeed works with the semiconductor material silicon carbide (SiC) to make electric vehicles charge faster and convert stored energy into increased mileage.
While once an obscure material, SiC is now at the heart of the EV landscape. Delphi, a leader in advanced propulsion for global vehicle manufacturers, has said SiC is a core technology in its roadmap for electrified powertrain components including chargers, DC to DC inverters and traction drive inverters. Echoing this sentiment, Tesla’s Elon Musk tweeted recently that SiC technology is powering its new Model 3 inverters.
Why is SiC essential for these systems? When compared to silicon, the material used in first-generation approaches, it offers:
- Lower-systems costs, making EVs more price-competitive
- Smaller and lighter components, which are critical factors in car design
- Higher efficiency that translates into faster charging, smaller batteries and greater range
Although the value proposition for SiC technology is clear and understood in the EV market, there is concern about the long-term availability of the material. However, Wolfspeed’s vertical integration and increased capacity over 2018 ensures that our customers will have access to the SiC components needed to produce their systems.
EVs also provide an exciting opportunity in the power-module industry because the designs aren't bound by the same restrictions of the more mature internal combustion vehicle industry. However, manufacturers and developers of power devices need to meet the diverse range of voltages and package sizes that EV platforms require, while maintaining the reliability car owners demand.
Wolfspeed recently launched the E-Series – a new family of robust SiC semiconductor devices that deliver the highest available power density and durability for on-board automotive power conversion systems and off-board charging.
These devices are specifically designed to be reliable and resilient in the harshest environments including high humidity, high voltage and high temperature, while still being automotive qualified. With the E-Series, Wolfspeed becomes the first and only SiC semiconductor manufacturer in the world to offer the broadest family of qualified parts for Tier 1 EV manufacturers. The portfolio expansion also enables Wolfspeed to supply all power conversion components within an EV for an end-to-end solution.
What is the future of silicon carbide for EVs? It’s clear that with the need for more range and power, as well as faster, more efficient charging, silicon carbide has the physical properties that best meet these needs. Demand for its use in EV development will continuously increase.
With no tradition of design standards, one size will NOT fit all needs. To address this uncertainty, Wolfspeed starts with a variety of device sizes and performance. This allows product lines in many forms, including custom products, fully-integrated optimized modules, discrete components, or other configurations. We have a leading chip technology that enables this massive advancement in EV. Delivering the technology and products to enable robust and efficient power circuits based on the industry’s most advanced silicon carbide, with in-house-expertise in materials and manufacturing, is allowing Wolfspeed to drive the future of electric vehicles.