Wolfspeed Silicon Carbide and the Electric Vehicle (EV) Market

Wolfspeed is building the world’s largest silicon carbide material factory to manufacture high-quality SiC power-switching and RF semiconductor devices.

Designers can leverage SiC MOSFETs to reduce system size, cost and power density while improving efficiency and reliability. Wolfspeed’s wide array of bare die products enables system-level designs for applications requiring highest power density applications.

EV Applications

Automotive drivers have relied on fossil fuels for years, and increasingly are looking for alternatives that allow them to travel further on one charge without stopping at gas stations to refuel. That requires innovative power system engineering with efficient energy distribution that maximizes energy efficiency while simultaneously keeping costs at a minimum – something Wolfspeed silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductors provide.

All EVs require an on-board charging (OBC) system to convert AC from the grid or harvest kinetic energy and replenish their batteries, but traditional silicon devices are limited when it comes to output and speed at high voltages needed for OBC systems. Wolfspeed SiC MOSFETs and diodes offer higher voltage capacity while offering reduced switching losses – ideal choices for OBC.

SiC can also enhance thermal performance, requiring fewer heat sinks for cooling purposes and ultimately decreasing both size and weight of power converters; this in turn improves system efficiency through reduced size/weight/compliance requirements, improved switching frequencies, and thus extended driving ranges.

Wolfspeed SiC power devices provide bidirectional OBC systems with additional benefits by sending electricity back to the grid, helping stabilize electricity supplies and foster more sustainable EV development. In either direction, Wolfspeed’s SiC devices enable designers to achieve increased energy efficiency and higher power density in their designs for OBC EVs.

Wolfspeed’s extensive portfolio of high-voltage, wide bandgap SiC power devices includes discrete products designed for use in demanding power applications as well as baseplate-less modules built using industry standards that are optimized for higher power applications like on-board chargers. No matter your application needs or objectives, Wolfspeed has products with sufficient scalability and support tools that will facilitate its success.

Data centers consume an enormous amount of electricity and are among the top users of water and CO2. Switching to wide-bandgap SiC server power transistors reduces power losses by as much as 40%, helping data center owners save cooling costs while meeting stringent efficiency standards.

Industrial Motor Drives

Industrial motor drives account for an increasing share of global energy use, and efficiency standards continue to tighten. Silicon carbide devices from Wolfspeed’s SiC line outperform traditional silicon components by up to 50 percent in terms of loss reduction allowing smaller heat sinks that provide smaller embedded industrial low voltage motor drive (ILCVD) systems at reduced costs and smaller heat sink sizes – providing greater compactness and less expense overall.

Join Wolfspeed experts as they demonstrate how our IE4 qualified silicon carbide power semiconductors can reduce system losses by up to 50 % and help engineers meet stringent global efficiency standards such as SEER, SCOP and ESEER in air conditioners and heat pumps. In particular, traditional IGBTs versus our WolfPACK modules in 3-phase 25kW compressors may enable designers to use 77% smaller heat sinks delivering energy savings as well as enhanced performance.

SiC can also help reduce DC motor losses by up to 80% and to shrink high-power switch-mode power supplies (SMPS) used in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, data centers and powertrain inverters by as much as 70% – providing designers with more compact, lighter and quieter systems.

Wolfspeed sees this opportunity as a major opportunity, and their manufacturing capacity is expanding to meet increasing demand. However, Wolfspeed’s growth rate and business strategy may be affected by global macroeconomic conditions or competitors’ innovations or aggressive pricing actions – outside of its control – so investors should carefully consider all relevant factors before investing in Wolfspeed.

Power Electronics

Wolfspeed silicon carbide has entered several new markets, and EVs are just one. Wolfspeed’s technology, production capacity and market share make them well-equipped to capitalise on this $40 billion opportunity pipeline.

At its facilities in New York and North Carolina, Silicon Carbide LLC produces its own supply of silicon carbide before cutting it into circular wafers that it sells or fabricates into chips itself. Unlike silicon devices, silicon carbide devices can be manufactured at lower temperatures with reduced costs.

Silicon carbide power MOSFETs feature lower on-resistance over temperature, thus minimizing energy loss. Furthermore, their faster switching speeds and higher frequency than traditional silicon devices increase efficiency and power density. Wolfspeed’s wide selection of bare die power products optimize system-level power density.

At its newest generation of 200 mm wafers, up to 70% more usable devices per wafer can be produced compared to traditional 150 mm wafers, significantly lowering overall system costs.

Wolfspeed silicon carbide not only supplies key semiconductors for electric vehicle inverters and boost converters but also the materials and expertise to create more energy-efficient, smaller, lighter e-mobility systems – including battery electric vehicles, fast chargers and industrial applications of e-mobility applications.

Wolfspeed Technologies was initially established as Cree in 1987, and has remained under their original founders’ management ever since. Additionally, strong ties remain between NC State and Wolfspeed Technologies.

University of Alabama at Huntsville boasts one of the world’s premier research programs in wide bandgap semiconductors, which has contributed significantly to establishing PowerAmerica National Manufacturing Innovation Institute within their department in 2014.

The hub is part of a federal initiative to increase domestic semiconductor production. The CHIPS Act allocates $52 billion towards supporting domestic production of critical devices like mobile phones, medical equipment, military aircraft and automobiles. Led by NC State and partnered with six other companies including Wolfspeed, it will use funds from this federal investment initiative to build a research and development facility on the campus of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Energy Storage

Wolfspeed silicon carbide delivers higher voltage and power levels necessary for today’s fast DC charging infrastructure. Our devices deliver 33% more power in 25% less area with 50% reduced losses that won’t increase your electric bill.

Wolfspeed’s silicon carbide semiconductor devices can help make electric vehicles, industrial motor drives, solar power and energy storage systems smaller in terms of size, weight, cost and performance. Their wide bandgap semiconductors outshone standard silicon devices in all these applications – making them the fastest yet lightest devices on the market.

Wolfspeed sees an extraordinary opportunity in meeting the increasing EV market demand with our high-performance silicon carbide Schottky diodes and MOSFETs, expanding 200mm capability at our state-of-the-art Mohawk Valley fab, investing in a 445-acre silicon carbide materials facility in North Carolina to expand capacity of our world’s first and largest 200mm IC fab facility, Mohawk Valley.

Our partners leverage our technology to power global factories, vehicles, information and economies. They employ our products to reinvent industries, revolutionize transportation and energy systems and transform economies in ways we couldn’t even fathom.

Technology shifts in the semiconductor industry occur rarely and we’re currently witnessing one that’s being driven by silicon carbide – an entirely synthetic power semiconductor material not found on Earth. With Joe Biden embarking on his Invest in America tour this month, we wanted to highlight one company that’s leading this transformational change and shaping an entirely different future for manufacturing.

General Motors today announced a long-term supply agreement for Wolfspeed’s Silicon Carbide (SiC) power devices to use in its next-generation electric vehicle propulsion systems. Wolfspeed SiC devices help GM extend range and efficiency while significantly lowering overall vehicle costs while participating in Wolfspeed’s Assurance of Supply ProgramTM and will start purchasing SiC bare and epitaxial wafers from John Palmour Materials Center when production begins in 2025.

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