The Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) announced on Dec. 14 that it developed a silicon carbide power semiconductor device and signed a technology transfer contract with power semiconductor manufacturer Maple Semiconductor.
A silicon carbide power semiconductor device’s voltage endurance is 10 times that of existing silicon semiconductor devices of the same thickness. In addition, the former has a low level of electrical resistance, produces little heat and can boost the fuel efficiency of electric vehicles.
Toyota has worked on the technology since the 1990s and increased the fuel efficiency of the third-generation Prius with it. The global automotive silicon carbide power semiconductor market is estimated to grow from US$146 million to US$1.095 billion in size between 2014 and 2020.
At present, only a handful of countries, including the United States, Germany and Japan, are capable of manufacturing silicon carbide power semiconductor devices. This is because of the difficulty of processing silicon carbide, which is the second-hardest material after diamond, into a semiconductor device. However, KERI succeeded in developing the device by making use of its technologies accumulated since 1999, including high-temperature ion implantation, diode technologies for chip area and power consumption reduction, and high-voltage transistor production.