Power electronics in automotive industry

There are 65 million cars made every year, in 2050 all of them will be electric or hybrid electric.

Legislation is driving the emissions allowed from every car down. That will require the electrification of the vast majority of vehicles produced. The power electronics industry will need to evolve dramatically in order to cope with the future supply needs: 65 million converter units for cars per year. That present us with a massive challenge but also an opportunity!

So who’s leading the market? The Japanese with toyota being the dominant player for hybrid electric cars, currently having 85% of market share. They already solved a lot of the challenges that were presented to them. This includes electrical safety, reliability, supply chain issues, technology and cost.

Is silicon carbide going to be adopted any time soon? Probably not. Electrification of any equipment used in a car, pumps, etc, costs much more than conventional mechanical parts. It seems that silicon technology will stick around until a massive reduction in cost and improvement in reliability happens.

Trains are expected to be the first type of vehicles to get the silicon carbide technology. Electrification is already established in the trail industry, and trains can stand the cost. That is because they are big systems, low numbers, high volume, long live, 25 years at least.

Are there any other applications pushing for more power electronics?

Ships will also be required to have a huge electric drive system. Legislation will require them to get in the port with the engines off.

Source: https://youtu.be/cGRtNorVYVc



4.5kV Bi-mode Gate Commutated Thyristor design with High Power Technology and shallow diode-anode

4.5kV Bi-mode Gate Commutated Thyristor design with High Power Technology and shallow diode-anode

Neophytos Lophitis*‡, Marina Antoniou*, Florin Udrea*, Umamaheswara Vemulapati§, Martin Arnold+, Munaf Rahimo+, Jan Vobecky+

*Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. ‡Faculty of Engineering, Environment and Computing, Coventry University, Coventry, UK. §ABB Switzerland Ltd, Corporate Research, Baden-Dättwil, Switzerland. +ABB Switzerland Ltd, Semiconductors, Lenzburg, Switzerland

The 28th IEEE International Symposium on Power Semiconductor Devices and ICs (ISPSD), June 2016, Prague, Czech Republic.

Power Electronics: The Rise Of The Wide Bandgap Semiconductors

Power Electronics: The Rise Of  The Wide Bandgap Semiconductors.
Samuel Perkins and Anastasios Arvanitopoulos

Power Electronics and Trends – Power Electronics is the discipline of controlling, converting and conditioning electrical power using power solid state electronic devices (Power Semiconductors) [1]. Advancements in many sectors, such as the automotive, aerospace, traction and consumer electronics are coupled to the advancements in power electronics. Specifically to the target of achieving increased efficiency of electric power conversion, of reducing size, weight and cost of the power converter. It also links to the reduction of power loss in the passive components. These are underpinned by the technological advancements achieved in power semiconductor device design and semiconductor materials. Silicon (Si) technology reached its technological maturity, therefore further improvements in power electronics of silicon technology are expected to be incremental rather than revolutionary. A step improvement can be achieved by the utilization of wide bandgap semiconductor materials such as the Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN). Because of the advanced electrical properties of these materials, revolutionary improvements can be expected through their improvement and utilisation.

MRes on high performance power electronics


The focus of the project will be to design devices that mitigate from issues that cause reliability problems and fully exploit the advanced characteristics of wide band gap semiconductors.

Systems and applications that incorporate power electronics and therefore power semiconductor devices have high efficiency and advanced functionality. Wide bandgap semiconductor materials such as the Silicon Carbide (SiC) and the Gallium Nitride (GaN) have superior electrical characteristics compared to silicon. As a result, high voltage power devices can get a real step-improvement in performance, efficiency and the ability to operate at elevated temperatures.

In hybrid and electric vehicles, the electric powertrain requires less cooling and it becomes more efficient if wide band gap semiconductor devices are used in the power electronics system. Further, the fuel economy of the vehicle increases and more cabin area becomes available.

Similar benefits arise when wide bandgap power devices are used in other applications, for example in power transmission systems, in conditioning power from wind and solar farms, consumer electronics and so on.

This project aims to provide with the development of a wide band gap high voltage device that fully exploits the material characteristics of wide band gap semiconductors such as the SiC through power semiconductor engineering.

Depending on the student’s academic background, we foresee a suite of studies that may include:

  • Technology Computer Aided Design (TCAD) modelling of semiconductor materials and devices. This includes modelling material parameters such as the bang gap, effective mass. density of states, activation energy for implants, electron mobility.
  • Physical modelling of traps due to defects including the development of traps model.
  • Process simulations.
  • Layout design.
  • Circuit design, experimentation, measurements and characterisation to demonstrate of the overall performance of the proposed solution.


More details here