Chris Bailey, Ph.D.
University of Greenwich
Power electronics is seeing significant growth due to electrification of transport, and carbon reduction using renewable energy. Innovations in devices (e.g. wide bandgap materials such as Silicon Carbide and Gallium Nitride) provide the opportunity to design smaller power electronic systems that are highly efficient. A key to realizing these benefits is innovations in packaging and design tools.
Traditional materials and packaging architectures need to address the new environments that they will be subjected to higher temperatures, frequencies, and inductances, etc. New design and modelling approaches will be required to support innovations in packaging and reliability predictions. This paper details some of the recent advances in power electronics systems and details some of the challenges that need to be overcome.
Power electronics is seeing significant growth due to drivers such as electrification of transport (e.g. electric cars) and carbon reduction using renewable energy (PV, wind, etc.). The use of silicon as the semiconductor material for devices is reaching its limits for many of these applications. Wide band gap devices with their ability to operate at higher frequencies, voltages and temperatures provide an opportunity to address these limits.
But challenges need to be overcome such as:
- Wafer yield at 150mm is low compared to silicon.
- Innovations are required for gate drive designs, high
dv/dt, and electromagnetic interference.
- Cost of SiC and GaN is still prohibitive to completely replace silicon
- Packaging and materials innovations are required to address EMI and thermo-mechanically induced stresses.
- Co-Design and Co-Simulation tools are required to optimize designs of future power electronics systems
- Innovations are required for magnetic materials to address core losses at high frequencies.
The power electronics community is growing bringing in engineers from different disciplines: electrical, mechanical, etc. Several organizations are documenting the current challenges for power electronics and posing potential solutions to these over a 5-15-year timescale through roadmaps such as:
- International Technology Roadmap for Wide Bandgap Devices (ITRW)
- Heterogeneous Integration Roadmap (HIR)
- Power America’s Strategic Roadmap for Next Generation Wide Bandgap Power Electronics
Initially Published in the SMTA Proceedings