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Technical Insight

Magazine Feature
This article was originally featured in the edition:
Volume 28 Issue 9

Plasma Polish enables SiC revolution

News

New lower-cost specialist SiC polish technique provides epi-ready surface, without compromising quality.

BY GRANT BALDWIN FROM OXFORD INSTRUMENTS PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Elon Musk is not a paint-by-numbers operator. Instead, he’s leading the commercial space race, he’s playing the crypto currency game like a grandmaster, and he’s just closed a Twitter purchase deal that’s been a white-knuckle ride for investors and representatives of the microblogging social network site.

Musk is as interesting as he is shrewd. He has a propensity for pushing boundaries, exemplified by his automotive jewel Tesla, pioneer of the electric vehicle (EV) market, and the first adopter of SiC inverters. At the heart of every EV is a drive train inverter, normally operating at 400 V, that converts DC battery output into an AC form that propels the vehicle. SiC had an early adopter in Tesla, bringing it recognition as the material of choice for this class of application. This has spawned broader adoption and ramping demand for this advanced compound material – also making it commercially attractive at today’s device price point.

Cost aside, the automotive industry is a conservative market that does not move quickly. Reliability must be proven, so rushing innovation is imprudent, considering the preciousness of the cargo. However, the importance of SiC components in E-mobility, as well as in other sectors, such as solar and industrial markets, is prompting the makers of these wide bandgap devices to develop enticing new technologies and processes to meet the performance, reliability and volume demands of these markets.