Fraunhofer IZM scientists and their SiC Module project partners are exploring how silicon carbide (SiC) can help boost the efficiency and range of electric vehicles.
Size, weight and efficiency are three main make-or-break factors that govern EV-installed power electronics. They in many ways impact the top speed and max range of such vehicles.
Scientists have been studying the new semiconductor material silicon carbide for quite some time now and they believe it is more efficient and greener than conventional semiconductors such as silicon.
Nevertheless, it is still confined to research labs and does not feature in any e-car found on the road today.
The SiC Module project is hoping to change that by porting SiC from the lab to the factory. All partners involved in the project are contributing in various ways.
For instance, the Fraunhofer IZM team is basing module’s design on the structure of the classic printed circuit board that the industry has long favored. This should expedite its rollout.
The IZM module is also benefiting from the latest scientific advances.
Rather than wire-bonding the semiconductor to the package, Fraunhofer has decided to embed it directly in the circuit with a galvanic-assisted copper contact to shorten the wires and optimize power routing.
The team has also brought the potential customer on board for this development effort.
They have been working with automakers, component suppliers and OEMs to map out the power-electronic modules’ size, layout and electrical circuits.
“We’re going beyond a general proof of concept because we are developing more than just a prototype in this project,” explains IZM group leader and head of the SiC sub-project project, Lars Böttcher.
“The goal is to ramp up both the new semiconductor material silicon carbide and the embedding technology for mass production.”
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the project with $4.2 million as part of the country’s E-Mobility Call.
Germany recently overtook Norway to become the third largest e-mobility market in the world.
Slated to run from January 2018 to December 2020, the project involves six partners – including Robert Bosch and Schweizer Electronic – alongside Fraunhofer IZM.
Image and content: Volker Mai/Fraunhofer IZM