We contribute to an energy-efficient society by developing next-generation materials and original technologies
We have launched the mass production of high-quality SiC epitaxial substrate "EpiEra™"
Electric equipment is basically equipped with power devices, or semiconductor devices for voltage, frequency and AC-DC conversion. It is anticipated that global energy consumption will further increase in the future with population growth and economic development in emerging countries. In the meantime, energy loss due to heat radiation from power devices is estimated to approximately 5% of the total energy consumed in the world. To reduce the loss, efficient conversion of a large amount of power is needed as a major key to an energy-efficient society.
Power devices are usually produced by laminating epitaxial layers on a wafer (epitaxial substrate) and applying fine machining to them. While a single material "silicon (Si)" has been used conventionally, a compound "silicon carbide (SiC)" now attracts attention as a next-generation material. With a nature between that of a diamond and that of silicon, SiC has high hardness, heat resistance, chemical stability and ability to withstand high voltage. This material is expected to help reduce energy loss and downsize products. On the other hand, it has been technically difficult to produce a defect-free epitaxial substrate with SiC.
Nevertheless, Sumitomo Electric has succeeded in the mass production of the high-quality and reliable SiC epitaxial substrate "EpiEra™" using its original growth technology (MPZ™) based on high-accuracy simulation in addition to the compound semiconductor technologies accumulated over many years in the Company. It has achieved an industry-leading 99% defect-free area (DFA), which represents the usable area with no surface defect, on the wafer surface. Sumitomo Electric further aims to achieve a completely defect-free epitaxial substrate, which will help realize an energy-efficient society.
SiC Efficiency improvement achieved by using SiC
Sumitomo Electric's power storage system for household use “POWER DEPO™ Ⅱ” is experimentally equipped with SiC power devices. It has improved the efficiency by more than 2 points across the power range in comparison with that with Si power devices. SiC power devices are expected to be used in the automotive field, in which an increasing number of electric vehicles are introduced; the railroad and other transportation fields, in which the energy efficiency and weight reduction of vehicles are required; the energy field, in which power plants are involved in a large amount of energy loss; and the information and communication field, in which stable power supply and space saving in data centers and other facilities are required. If efficiency was improved in all of the motors used in Japan, the power of approximately 11 billion kWh could be saved, which is equivalent to the electricity used in 3 million households.