Listen Now: Powering up with Silicon Carbide
On this episode of the eeDesignIt Podcast, Rob Weber, Product Line Director of the Silicon Carbide (SiC) business unit at Microchip, had an enlightening discussion with us about the role of SiC in today’s power industry.
Weber emphasized the current trend of electrification across various markets, driven by the need for higher levels of power fidelity. Notably, the surge in electric vehicles (EVs) and related infrastructure, such as EV charging, significantly impacts the grid. As a result, developing the smart grid and exploring sustainable energy sources such as solar and wind are becoming increasingly important.
We also chatted about the challenges of rapid EV charging, a critical aspect of the EV industry. Weber acknowledged that while EV adoption hasn’t been as swift as some might have hoped, a significant part of the issue lies in the infrastructure. The need for a robust EV charging infrastructure is growing, and Weber believes government funding in the U.S. and worldwide can accelerate this development.
Reflecting on the recent Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC), Weber highlighted the industry’s transition to wide bandgap materials, such as SiC and GaN, from traditional silicon-based power conversion materials. This transition has unfolded over the last six to seven years and was the conference’s central theme.
At APEC, Microchip showcased a simulator tool called the MPLAB SiC Power Simulator. This tool allows engineers to model the use of wide bandgap products, primarily SiC, in their applications. The company also demonstrated a new Power over Ethernet (PoE) outdoor switch, adding advanced network and security features for outdoor applications.
Weber also delved into Microchip’s involvement in SiC technology, citing the company’s 20-year history with SiC, dating back to the acquisition of company APTT, an early innovator in SiC. He emphasized the company’s focus on helping customers adopt SiC with ease, speed, and confidence.
Microchip’s approach to SiC involves:
- Providing rugged and reliable products to simplify design.
- Offering gate drivers and controllers to speed up design.
- Ensuring a stable supply chain for customer confidence.
They also offer various SiC components, from diodes to modules, catering to various voltage requirements.
Addressing the apprehension engineers might have in transitioning to SiC from traditional silicon IGBTs, Weber acknowledged the comfort engineers have built around silicon-based designs over the years. However, he strongly advocates for the transition to SiC, given its superior performance benefits, such as faster switching, higher operating temperatures, and the capability to handle higher voltages.
In conclusion, the discussion with Weber affirmed the crucial role of SiC in the power industry’s future. While the transition to SiC might be challenging, its significant advantages make it a worthwhile pursuit for engineers and the industry.
This episode of the eeDesignIt Podcast is sponsored by Microchip.
Microchip’s Silicon Carbide (SiC) power solutions provide the lowest system cost, fastest time to market and lowest risk. Our solutions include the industry’s broadest and most flexible portfolio of SiC diodes, MOSFETs and gate drivers in bare die, discrete, module and customizable power module forms. With over 20 years of experience in the development, design and support of SiC devices and power solutions, we can help you adopt SiC with ease, speed and confidence.