Wise Bandgap Semiconductors for Utility Applications

L.M. Tolbert, B. Ozpineci, S.K. Islam, and M.S. Chinthavalli (USA)


Power electronics devices, utility system, Silicon Carbide,Gallium Nitride, diamond, wide band gap semiconductor.


Recent development advances have allowed silicon (Si) semiconductor technology to approach the theoretical limits of the Si material; however, power device requirements for many utility applications of power electronics are at a point that the present Si-based power devices cannot handle. The requirements include higher blocking voltages, switching frequencies, efficiency, and reliability. To overcome this limitation, new semiconductor materials for power device applications are needed. Wide band gap semiconductors like silicon carbide (SiC), gallium nitride (GaN) and diamond, with their superior electrical properties are likely candidates to replace Si in the near future for these high power requirements. Among these, SiC is the forerunner as the only wide band gap semiconductor with several commercially available power devices. This paper compares all the abovementioned wide bandgap semiconductors with respect to their applicability and promise for utility applications and predicts the future of power device semiconductor materials.

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