The Korean Intellectual Property Office announced on Oct. 20 that the number of patent applications related to next-generation power semiconductors more than tripled from 10 to 33 from 2015 to last year and this is a result of more R&D on the technology as demand for power chips is expected to surge in various fields such as electric vehicle and renewable energy.
Existing silicon-based power semiconductors are inexpensive yet have their own limitations in ensuring high levels of durability and reliability in severe vehicle operation environments. On the other hand, the SiC- and GaN-based power semiconductors can be stably operated at a high temperature and a high voltage and can achieve a significant improvement in terms of power efficiency and size and weight reduction. Still, those power semiconductors require complex process technologies and a lot of cost, which need to be overcome for commercial use.
The office also said that the ratio of patent applications by locals rose from 40 percent to 66.6 percent during the period with South Korean companies increasing their investment in non-memory semiconductors. In addition, the number of patent applications by non-large companies jumped from less than five to 13 from the 2015-2017 period to 2018.