IEA 4E TCP-PECTA: Power Electronic Conversion Technology
During the last couple of years, wide bandgap (WBG) technology attracted a lot of attention in the field of power electronics. Currently there are two types of WBG materials evolving: Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN). Furthermore, Carbon (as diamond) could be a promising future material which is however not commercially available, yet.
WBG might overcome fundamental restrictions and limitations which adhere to Silicon (Si) MOSFET and IGBT based semiconductor components. Current barriers are for example limited system efficiency (due to either high switching and/or conduction losses) limited power density according to either higher cooling effort (due to high switching frequencies) or bulky power components (as e.g. input/output filter volume) if a higher system efficiency is intended by means of rather low semiconductor switching frequency and eventually it has to be noted that current IGBT technology is currently limited to a maximum blocking voltage of 6.5 kV for a couple of hundreds of Amps of maximum current.
Regarding its physical characteristics, semiconductors based on WBG materials come with a lot of different advantages which might be key enabling technology to break through these barriers. Compared to the classical silicon material, WBG based solutions offer a higher bandgap between valence and conduction band, which means that more energy is required to push electrons from the valence band to the conduction band compared to Si. Hence, this results in improved impact values as higher critical field intensity and a higher electron velocity. Thus, also components with higher blocking voltages than e.g. state of the art Si-IGBTs can be anticipated. Thus, WBG is of major interest in low-voltage as well as medium- and high-voltage applications. Integration of possible upcoming high-voltage WBG semiconductor components can reduce current system complexity in most power electronics applications.
Main goals of the IEA 4E TCP PECTA Annex include collecting and analyzing information about new WBG-based semiconductors and its possibleapplications, developing greater understanding and action amongst governments and eventually promote this evolving technology.
The participation of AIT in the PECTA Annex is proposed in order to position Austria as in terms of WBG and its integration in suitable industrial and consumer based applications.
The different tasks of the PECTA Annex are:
- Validation of efficiency potential of different WBG applications
- Identification of development of a short and long-term roadmap for power devices
- Engaging in international standardization activities (e.g. IEC)
- Outreach-oriented activities, including "Education" and "Dissemination".
Main result of the Austrian participation is the generation of knowledge in order to assess applicability of possible long-term concepts considering integration of WBG. Furthermore, the PECTA Annex may serve as independent knowledge platform, which may allow Austrian policy makers and consumers to facilitate the market adoption of this technology.
Austria, Sweden, Switzerland
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH