PEIC’s Position on FOA683

Posted on Industry News, PEIC Happenings

As active market players in power electronics at the global stage, PEIC’s members clearly understand the benefits and challenges facing widespread adoption of WBG.  PEIC’s members believe that, to achieve the DOE/AMO’s “Next Generation Power Electronics Institute” stated goal as described in FOA683 of “transition products & technologies from R&D to the marketplace,” there are two key elements required:

  1. The effort should be industry led – by the manufacturers of cars, trucks, planes, industrial drives, inverters, converters, power semiconductor devices, etc.
  2. The focus must first be on solving application level challenges in parallel with device level challenges – not device level challenges first.

The reasons for these two drivers can be summarized accordingly.

Firstly, because manufacturers of end applications (cars, planes, inverters, etc.) can provide the path to the marketplace, they should lead this effort.  Manufacturers like GM, Boeing, Magna, Delphi, and others have the best understanding of what is required to get advanced power semiconductor devices, such as WBG SiC or GaN devices, into the marketplace.  Additionally, not only have the ability but they have the need to apply such devices in volume production if they are to adopt the technology ultimately. Thus, no one else is better equipped to drive the market growth of WBG.

Secondly, based on the actual experience thus far with the WBG technology, PEIC believes the primary issues blocking the adoption of WBG devices are at the subsystem, system and application levels, and the integration works therein.  While specific device level improvements will continue to be important, the real learning’s for devices will be found in application focused work. Specifically, the primary focus should be on the applications of advanced devices, particularly their packaging and integration.  Optimization of the packaging and integration of these devices for the potential applications is most critical to enable and demonstrate the benefits of these advanced power semiconductor devices to be identified and realized in the marketplace.  Device-level optimization must be driven by their application. This will require, foremost, an industry-driven, system level development cycle, starting with the WBG wafers and devices available today, to first identify and then remove the primary roadblocks.  Upon removing these roadblocks, the manufacturers within the entire supply chain will then put the results into volume production, selling goods in the market place, and thus driving further investment and simulating employment.

While PEIC is keenly interested in the outcome of FOA683, and hopes to participate in the “Institute” on a project basis, we cannot lead a proposal based on the requirement to host wafer fab facilities.  However, as vested stakeholders in this emerging technology space, we would like to highlight what our views of the overarching framework of the “Next Generation Power Electronics Institution” needs to be (see table 1), including its objectives, deliverables, methodologies (see table 2) and required partners so that it is successful at stimulating the advancement and commercialization of the much more efficient and compact (i.e. power-dense) electrical systems based on the application of WBG devices.

Table 2: Schematically, the two-phase methodology

 

While the individual block represents specific methodology of the work task/deliverable needed at each stage (i.e. specific scopes and focuses of technology development), it is the chain of integrated activities that ensure that the multiple layers of tasks and deliverables are coordinated throughout the supply-chain so that the WBG Institute is successful, i.e. successful commercialization of WBG technology as “market ready” – in cost, performance and reliability, and thus, stimulate further technology advancement in a competitive market-driven manner.

It is worth reemphasizing that the required partners needed to drive this effort at scale, must span multiple supply-chain layers (i.e. device, package, module, sub-system, system, application) and serve multiple industries/applications. This is also, in essence, one of the cornerstones for PEIC’s founding mission.