AIST Stories No1

From AIST to the Innovative World16New semiconductor devices that cut power losses to the minimumOur current lifestyle would not be possible without electricity. We use electricity everywhere, from household equipment such as refrigerators, washing machines and computers to trains, electric cars, and infrastructure such as the water supply and telecommunications. Power electronics, the technologies that quickly and efficiently switch electric power between AC and DC and change frequencies, etc. to suit different applications, are essential for society.Electric power is converted and controlled by semiconductor devices (power converters). Until now, the main material in these components has been silicon (Si), as it has been for half a century. Research into reducing power losses during power conversions has reached its limits for silicon. Therefore, for the realization of a low-carbon, energy-efficient society, we require development of devices with higher speeds and lower losses to replace silicon power devices.Through participa-tion in various New Energy and In-dustrial Technology Develop-ment Or-ganization (NEDO) projects, AIST has been tirelessly work-ing on this challenge since the late 1970s. Silicon carbide (SiC)*1 is chemically stable and hard, and has excellent heat resistance and high thermal conductivity. The growing market for power electronicsA Revolution in Power Electronics Made Possible by Semiconductor Silicon CarbideDirector, Advanced Power Electronics Research CenterHajime OkumuraThrough collaborative research with industry, we are aiming to commercialize SiC and related technologies.Semiconductor silicon carbide (SiC)In a society that cannot function without the use of electricity, increasing the efficiency of electricity use is critical. Silicon carbide power devices, which use power efficiently, can raise energy efficiency in electronic devices and the electricity infra-structure to a higher level, and will contribute to the realization of a low-carbon society.1,500,0001,400,0001,200,0001,000,000800,000600,000400,000200,0000(JPY million)20112012201320142015201620172020 (year)Source: Potential Materials for Electronics Parts 2013 – Comprehensive Survey (2012, Fuji Chimera Research Institute, Inc.)IGBT modulesIntelligent power modules (IPM)SiC power devicesGaN power devicesInverters for carsDC/DC converters for carsMotors for carsGaN circuitsSiC circuitsInto the futureAIST!Our life and society will change in this way!