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Wolfspeed Wins 2016 R&D 100 Award


Wolfspeed, A Cree Company, a leading global supplier of silicon carbide (SiC) power products — including best-in-class SiC MOSFETs, Schottky diodes, and modules — won a 2016 R&D 100 Award for its high temperature, wide bandgap (WBG) underhood inverter for electric vehicles.

“It’s a great accomplishment to win an R&D 100 Award, so we’re very honored to have earned recognition for one of our latest innovations in the commercial SiC device industry,” said John Palmour, Wolfspeed’s chief technology officer. “Our SiC inverter is the first traction drive optimized for wide bandgap devices that utilizes a commercially available SiC power module. By increasing power in a smaller footprint, Wolfspeed is enabling hybrid and electric vehicles to become more attractive to end consumers, contributing further to a reduction in the domestic use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, through our partnerships with other industry leaders, Wolfspeed ensures that our technology is readily adoptable in vehicle applications.”

Wolfspeed’s high-temperature, WBG underhood inverter was developed in response to the need for smaller, lighter, and more efficient systems with higher power density in the electric vehicle market, and in collaboration with: the Toyota Research Institute of North America, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the University of Arkansas National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission, and the Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Office.

Underhood inverters convert the DC power stored in hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or all-electric vehicle battery packs to three-phase AC power that can be used to energize one or more electrical loads, and traditionally employ industry standard silicon semiconductors. Utilizing Wolfspeed’s WBG semiconductor devices and advanced packaging techniques in an underhood inverter allowed engineers to achieve faster switching with reduced system-level losses during high ambient temperature operation (140°C). This WBG-based system significantly outperforms silicon technology and meaningfully extends the realm of possibility for vehicle inverters, for which it has been earned the achievement of being named one of the top technical breakthrough products released in 2015.

The core of Wolfspeed’s WBG underhood inverter consists of three commercial Wolfspeed CAS325M12HM2 SiC half-bridge power modules, which are rated for 1200V and 325A of continuous RMS current at high temperatures. The inverter assembly also includes: a liquid-cooled cold plate, which provides the thermal conduction path for energy losses; low inductance power bussing, which minimizes parasitic losses and maximizes switching efficiencies; snubber and filter components, which dampen over-voltage and over-current spiking and dampens resonances; control and drive circuitry, which performs the dynamic switching and provides users with feedback, control signals, and high current gate drive signals; and an enclosure, which provides the unit with EMI shielding, electrical cabling, and liquid cooling inlet/outlet connections.

By utilizing WBG materials, Wolfspeed eliminated the need for the secondary radiator and thermal management system in the vehicle. This inverter allows the onboard power electronics to be cooled by the same coolant loop as the primary radiator and combustion engine, which significantly decreases the overall mass and volume of the system. In addition to reducing the system footprint within the car, Wolfspeed’s WBG technology also increases the peak power delivery of the unit by 2–3x what is currently achievable, while operating at overall higher ambient temperatures.

Presented by the R&D 100 Awards Committee and R&D Magazine, the 54th annual R&D 100 Awards honors the 100 most innovative technologies and services of the past year. Selected by an independent panel of more than 50 judges, the award winners are recognized for their contributions to advancing science and technology across five primary categories: analytical/test, IT/electrical, mechanical devices/materials, processes/prototyping, and software/services, and four special recognition categories: market disrupter services, market disruptor products, corporate social responsibility, and green technology.

This year’s R&D 100 Award Winners were announced at a black-tie awards dinner during the R&D 100 Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland on November 3, 2016. For more information about the awards, please visit

To learn more about Wolfspeed’s high temperature, wide bandgap (WBG) underhood inverter for electric vehicles, its capabilities, and its innovative impact on electric vehicles, please navigate to the R&D 100 video at For more information about Wolfspeed’s CAS325M12HM2 high performance, 1200V, 325A, 62mm SiC half-bridge module, please visit For all other inquiries about Wolfspeed power products, please visit

About the R&D 100 Awards

Since 1963, the R&D 100 Awards program has identified revolutionary technologies newly introduced to the market. Widely recognized as the “Oscars of Invention,” the R&D 100 Awards identify and celebrate the top technology products of the year. Past winners have included sophisticated testing equipment, innovative new materials, chemistry breakthroughs, biomedical products, consumer items, and high-energy physics spanning industry, academia, and government-sponsored research.

About Wolfspeed

Wolfspeed, A Cree Company, is leading the innovation and commercialization of silicon carbide and gallium nitride, liberating designers to invent power and wireless systems for a responsible, energy-efficient future.

Wolfspeed’s wide bandgap semiconductor products for power and radio-frequency (RF) applications deliver new levels of performance through increased efficiency, higher switching frequency and reduced system size and weight for the transportation, industrial, energy and communications markets.

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About Cree

Cree is a market-leading innovator of lighting-class LEDs, lighting products and semiconductor products for power and radio frequency (RF) applications. Cree believes in better light experiences and is delivering new innovative LED technology that transforms the way people experience light through high-quality interior and exterior LED lighting solutions.

Cree’s product families include LED lighting systems and bulbs, blue and green LED chips, high-brightness LEDs, lighting-class power LEDs, power-switching devices and RF devices. Cree’s products are driving improvements in applications such as general illumination, electronic signs and signals, power supplies and inverters.

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Cree® is a registered trademark and Wolfspeed is a trademark of Cree, Inc.