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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Fraunhofer IAF develops first monolithically integrated GaN half bridge for voltage converters for e-mobility

May 11, 2017

Half-bridge circuits are the centerpiece of many voltage converters. Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF has now produced and demonstrated the world’s first monolithically integrated GaN half bridge for the important 600 volt class. In power electronics components, this is the standard volt class for grid-connected electrical devices, ranging from tablets and washing machines to e-bikes and electric cars.

Monolithic integration combines several components on a single GaN chip, enabling extremely small, powerful systems to be created. Besides being very compact, monolithically integrated half-bridge circuits have significantly better electronic properties. For example, the switching frequency can be improved by a factor of around 10 in comparison with conventional voltage converters.

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Renesas introduces small, 100kW-class inverter solution for HEVs and EVs

April 10, 2017

Renesas Electronics Corporation announced its new 100kW-class inverter solution that achieves industry-leading small volume of 3.9 liter (L) for high-power 100kW-class motors in mid- to large-sized hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) including SUVs, and mid- to small-sized electric vehicles (EVs).

Renesas will provide a solution kit including software that maximizes the HEV/EV motor performance and hardware components such as microcontrollers (MCUs), Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) and fast recovery diode (FRD), and other power semiconductor devices.

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Mitsubishi Electric develops world’s smallest SiC inverter for HEVs; reduced losses, improved fuel efficiency

March 09, 2017

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has developed a working model of an ultra-compact silicon carbide (SiC) inverter for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) that is believed to be the world’s smallest SiC device of its type at just five liters volume.

It also is believed to offer the world’s highest power density of 86 kVA / L for two-motor HEVs, thanks to incorporation of full-SiC power semiconductor modules that achieve superior heat dissipation.

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Finnish electric powertrain company Visedo raises €20M to support global expansion; SRPM technology

December 22, 2016

Visedo, a Finnish manufacturer specializing in electric powertrains and components, has secured a financing package of €20 million (US$21 million) to support its international growth plans. The financing consists of an equity investment of €13.5 million, an EFSI loan of €5 million and €1.5 million in funding from other sources.

Founded in 2009, Visedo specializes in electric powertrains and components for heavy-duty machinery, commercial vehicles and the marine industry. Its powertrains are suitable for hybrid and electric systems within the power range of 30 kW to 2,000 kW. Visedo’s head office is located in Lappeenranta, Finland, and the company has a subsidiary in the Netherlands. Visedo has a broad, international client base, with exports to Europe and Asia representing 90% of its sales.

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Schaeffler acquires motor manufacturer Compact Dynamics; power electronics agreement with SEMIKRON

December 20, 2016

Automotive and industrial supplier Schaeffler finalized a purchase contract with SEMIKRON International GmbH for the acquisition of 51% of the shares of Compact Dynamics GmbH, a manufacturer of high-performance electric motors.

At the same time, Schaeffler and SEMIKRON have agreed a cooperation for the development of power electronics systems and the integration of power electronics components. With this acquisition and cooperation, Schaeffler is expanding its expertise in electric motors and power electronics for the development and production of electric drives.

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Wolfspeed wins 2016 R&D 100 Award for wide bandgap underhood inverter for HEVs/EVs

November 11, 2016

Wolfspeed, A Cree Company, a leading global supplier of silicon carbide (SiC) power products, won a 2016 R&D 100 Award for its high-temperature, wide-bandgap (WBG) underhood inverter for hybrid and electric vehicles.

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 (TRINA); the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL); the University of Arkansas National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission; and the Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO).

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ARPA-E launches PNDIODES program to boost power electronics work

October 28, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has launched a new program—Power Nitride Doping Innovation Offers Devices Enabling SWITCHES (PNDIODES) (DE-FOA-0001691)—to fund transformational advances and mechanistic understanding in the process of selective area doping in the III-Nitride wide band gap (WBG) semiconductor material system.

PNDIODES, with $6.5 million in funding, seeks demonstrations of arbitrarily placed, reliable, contactable, and generally useable p-n junction regions that enable high-performance and reliable vertical power electronic semiconductor devices. The microscopic mechanistic understanding and transformational technologies resulting from successful projects in the program would address the major obstacle in the fabrication of vertical GaN power electronic devices experienced by most of the teams in the ARPA-E SWITCHES (Strategies for Wide Bandgap, Inexpensive Transistors for Controlling High-Efficiency Systems) program.

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Wolfspeed delivers industry’s first 1000V SiC MOSFET for efficient EV fast chargers

October 06, 2016

Wolfspeed, a Cree Company and a leader in silicon carbide (SiC) power products, has introduced a 1000V MOSFET (metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor) that enables a reduction in overall system cost, while improving system efficiency and decreasing system size. The new MOSFET, specially optimized for fast charging and industrial power supplies, enables a 30% reduction in component count while achieving more than 3x increase in power density and a 33% increase in output power.

Designers can reduce component count by moving from silicon-based, three-level topologies to simpler two-level topologies made possible by the 1000 Vds rating of the SiC MOSFET. The increase in output power in a reduced footprint is realized by the ultra-low output capacitance—as low as 60pF—which significantly lowers switching losses.

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NC State team develops new SiC inverter; 12.1 kW/L & greater efficiency in a smaller, lighter package

September 15, 2016

Researchers at the Future Renewable Electric Energy Distribution and Management (FREEDM) Systems Center at North Carolina State University have developed an inverter for hybrid and electric vehicles using off-the-shelf components made of the wide-bandgap semiconductor material silicon carbide (SiC).

The new SiC-based inverter has a power density of 12.1 kW/L—close to the US Department of Energy’s target of 13.4 kW/L by 2020. By way of comparison, a 2010 electric vehicle could achieve only 4.1 kW/L. Further, says Iqbal Husain, ABB Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NC State and director of the FREEDM Center, the silicon carbide prototype inverter can transfer 99% of energy to the motor—about two percent higher than the best silicon-based inverters under normal conditions.

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Utah, Minnesota team discover highly conductive oxide-based materials; STO/NTO offer “different road to power electronics”

July 27, 2016

Engineers from the University of Utah and the University of Minnesota have discovered that interfacing two particular oxide-based materials—strontium titanate (STO) and neodymium titanate (NTO)—makes them highly conductive, a boon for future power electronics that could result in more power-efficient laptops, electric cars and home appliances that also don’t need cumbersome power supplies. Their findings were published in an open access paper in the journal, APL Materials, from the American Institute of Physics.

The team led by University of Utah electrical and computer engineering assistant professor Berardi Sensale-Rodriguez and University of Minnesota chemical engineering and materials science assistant professor Bharat Jalan revealed that when the two oxide compounds interact with each other, the bonds between the atoms are arranged in a way that produces many free electrons—the particles that can carry electrical current. STO and NTO are by themselves known as insulators—i.e., not conductive at all. When they interface, however, the amount of electrons produced is a hundred times larger than what is possible in semiconductors.

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Infineon buys Wolfspeed Power for $850M cash; power semiconductors for electromobility

July 15, 2016

Infineon Technologies AG has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Wolfspeed Power and RF division of Cree. The deal also includes the related SiC wafer substrate business for power and RF power. The purchase price for this planned all-cash transaction is US$850 million (~€740 million). Infineon says that the purchase will give it the broadest offering in compound semiconductors (semiconductors made from two or more elements) and will further strengthen Infineon as a leading supplier of power and RF power solutions in high-growth markets such as electro-mobility, renewables and next-generation cellular infrastructure relevant for the Internet of Things (IoT).

Wolfspeed is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA, and has been a part of Cree for almost three decades. Wolfspeed is a premier provider of SiC-based power and GaN-on-SiC-based RF power solutions. This also includes the related core competencies in wafer substrate manufacturing for SiC, as well as for SiC with a monocrystalline GaN layer for RF power applications. With these competencies, more than 550 highly skilled employees and a strong IP portfolio of approximately 2,000 patents and patent applications, this deal complements Infineon’s previous acquisition of International Rectifier in early 2015. (Earlier post.) Wolfspeed’s SiC-based product portfolio ideally adds to Infineon’s offering.

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University of Nottingham leading 3-year, £830K project on automotive power electronics

July 14, 2016

The University of Nottingham (UK) is leading a 3-year, £830,000 (US$1.1-million) research project on power electronics—the EPSRC Challenge Network in Automotive Power Electronics.

The EPSRC Challenge Network in Automotive Power Electronics will bring together the academic and industrial communities to identify and to address the long-term challenges in the design, manufacture, deployment and operational management of automotive electrical-power conversion and conditioning systems.

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