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What are SiC power devices?

SiC Semiconductor Features

1. Physical properties and characteristics of SiC

SiC (silicon carbide) is a compound semiconductor composed of silicon and carbide.
It provides a number of advantages over silicon, including 10x the breakdown electric field strength, 3x the bandgap, and enables a wider range of p- and n-type control required for device construction.
The result is breakthrough performance not possible with silicon, making it the most viable successor for next-generation power devices.
A variety of polytypes (polymorphs) of SiC exists, each with different physical properties. 4H-SiC is ideal for power devices.

Properties Si 4H-SiC GaAs GaN
Crystal Structure Diamond Hexagonal Zincblende Hexagonal
Energy Gap: EG(eV) 1.12 3.26 1.43 3.5
Electron Mobility: μn(cm2/VS) 1400 900 8500 1250
Hole Mobility: μp(cm2) 600 100 400 200
Breakdown Field: EB(V/cm)X106 0.3 3 0.4 3
Thermal Conductivity(W/cm℃) 1.5 4.9 0.5 1.3
Saturation Drift Velocity: vs(cm/s)X107 1 2.7 2 2.7
Relative Dielectric Constant: εS 11.8 9.7 12.8 9.5
p. n Control
Thermal Oxide × ×
2. Power device characteristics

SiC features 10x the breakdown electric field strength of silicon, making it possible to configure higher voltage (600V to thousands of V) power devices through a thinner drift layer and higher impurity concentration.
And since most of the resistance component of high-voltage devices is located in the drift layer resistance, SiC makes it possible to achieve greater withstand voltages with extremely low ON-resistance per unit area.
Theoretically, the drift layer resistance per area can be reduced by 300x compared with silicon at the same withstand voltage.
In order to minimize the increase in ON resistance at higher withstand voltages using silicon, minority carrier devices (bipolar) such as IGBTs (Insulate Gate Bipolar Transistors) are typically used. However, this increases switching loss, which can lead to greater heat generation and limit high frequency operation.
In contrast, SiC makes it possible to achieve high withstand voltage using majority carrier devices (Schottky barrier diode, MOSFET) through high-speed device construction, enabling simultaneous high withstand voltage, low ON resistance, and high-speed operation.
In addition, 3x wider bandgap allows for power device operation at much higher temperatures, expanding applicability considerably.