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What questions do people ask about SiC most often?
The first one everyone asks me is "When will SiC devices reach price parity with silicon devices?" There are two different schools of thought on that question. The first one reflects the thinking of the purchasing managers, who think SiC devices can't truly succeed until they reach price parity with the silicon solutions being used today. The second school would say that SiC's performance benefits rightly warrant something of a price premium. However, I would argue that buyers are too hung up on comparing the price of transistors instead of considering the cost savings possible at the system level by choosing SiC. For example, SiC often enables reducing the size of the transformer, which is made of costly copper and iron. Customers can also reduce the size of the heat sink, which is typically extruded aluminum, which is also expensive. Going to SiC also improves converter efficiency and ruggedness; suddenly, the difference in price from one transistor to another isn't nearly so important.
The second most common question I hear is "When will SiC devices with suitable reliability and suitable lifetime expectations be available from multiple suppliers?" I'm glad to be able to say that my answer to that question is very different now than it would have been about a year ago. Today, we have multiple credible suppliers of SiC MOSFETs and Schottky diodes, all with reputations for quality to protect. Buyers can be confident these suppliers wouldn't release a commercial product unless it is robust and they have the reliability data to back that up. If a customer had asked me that question a year ago, I might have winced a little. But today, I can address that question with a great deal of confidence and say, "That time has come."
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About the Author
Dr. Kevin Speer joined Littelfuse in January 2015 as the business development manager responsible for providing strategic direction for the growth of the Littelfuse IGBT and wide band gap power semiconductor business. Since 1999, Kevin has published a wide range of SiC research, including crystal growth and defect studies, device design and reliability, and applications. He has been active in business development roles with SemiSouth and Infineon. Kevin earned a BSEE from the University of Arkansas in 2004, a M. Eng. from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in 2007, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from CWRU in 2011.
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