With a rapidly increasing global demand for energy, its increasing cost and concerns over the security of supply of traditional carbon based fuels and the acceptance of global warming, the need to ensure the most efficient generation, distribution and use of electrical energy is now recognised by governments throughout the world.
From generation to use, power and electronic semiconductor devices are used in the control, conversion and switching of electric power. Their efficiency is key in:
- reducing the power required by any system or product in a host of applications including consumer electronics, LEDs, electric cars and trains, industrial motors, aircraft, ships, commercial premises and data centres;
- achieving efficient generation of power, particularly with the increase in renewables such as PV, wind and tidal;
- and delivering efficient distribution, control and conversion of power from many sources via the Smart Grid.
The current power semiconductor market is dominated by silicon devices. Over many generations of investment and technology development and driven by huge market demands, this technology has been fine tuned to give optimum performance and high reliability at low cost. But silicon technology has now reached the point where its fundamental material properties constrain the design and limit the efficiency of power semiconductor systems. The superior material properties of Silicon Carbide have long been recognised as offering a way forward but the high cost of the material and devices has limited their adoption…until now.