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GeneSiC Signs $2.53M Contract To Develop SiC Thyristor-based Devices

The agreement is with the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). The devices are expected to be key enablers for integrating large-scale wind and solar power plants into the next-generation Smart Grid.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) has entered into a Cooperative Agreement with GeneSiC Semiconductor towards the development of the novel ultra high-voltage silicon carbide (SiC) Thyristor based devices.

These devices are expected to be key enablers for integrating large-scale wind and solar power plants into the next-generation Smart Grid.

“This highly competitive award to GeneSiC will allow us to extend our technical leadership position in the multi-kV Silicon Carbide technology, as well as our commitment to grid-scale alternative energy solutions with solid state solutions," commented Ranbir Singh, President of GeneSiC.

“Multi-kV SiC Thyristors we’re developing are the key enabling technology towards the realization of Flexible AC Transmission Systems (FACTS) elements and High Voltage DC (HVDC) architectures envisaged towards an integrated, efficient, Smart Grid of the future. GeneSiC’s SiC-based Thyristors offer 10X higher voltage, 100X faster switching frequencies and higher temperature operation in FACTS and HVDC power processing solutions as compared to conventional Silicon-based Thyristors," he continued.

In April 2010, GeneSiC responded to the Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology (ADEPT) solicitation from ARPA-E that sought to invest in materials for fundamental advances in high voltage switches that has the potential to leapfrog existing power converter performance while offering reductions in cost.

The company’s proposal titled “Silicon Carbide Anode Switched Thyristor for medium voltage power conversion" was selected to provide a lightweight, solid-state, medium voltage energy conversion for high power applications such as solid-state electrical substations and wind turbine generators. Deploying these advanced power semiconductor technologies could provide as much as a 25-30 % reduction in electricity consumption through increased efficiencies in delivery of electrical power. Innovations selected were to support and promote U.S. businesses through technological leadership, through a highly competitive process.

Silicon carbide is a next-generation semiconductor material with vastly superior properties to conventional silicon, such as the ability to handle ten times the voltage—and one-hundred times the current—at temperatures as high as 300ºC. These characteristics make it ideally suited to high-power applications such as hybrid and electric vehicles, renewable energy (wind and solar) installations, and electrical-grid control systems.

It is now well established that ultra-high voltage (>10kV) Silicon Carbide (SiC) device technology will play a revolutionary role in the next-generation utility grid. Thyristor-based SiC devices offer the highest on-state performance for >5 kV devices, and are widely applicable towards medium voltage power conversion circuits like Fault-Current Limiters, AC-DC converters, Static VAR compensators and Series Compensators. SiC based Thyristors also offer the best chance of early adoption due to their similarities to conventional power grid elements. Other promising applications and advantages for these devices include:

    *      Power-management and power-conditioning systems for Medium Voltage DC conversion sought under Future Naval Capability (FNC) of US Navy, Electro-magnetic launch systems, high energy weapon systems and medical imaging. The 10-100X higher operating frequency capability allows unprecedented improvements in size, weight, volume and ultimately, cost of such systems.

    *       A variety of energy storage, high-temperature and high-energy physics applications. Energy storage and power grid applications are receiving increasing attention as the world focuses on more efficient and cost-effective energy-management solutions.

GeneSiC is a fast emerging innovator in the area of SiC power devices and has a strong commitment to the development of Silicon Carbide (SiC) based devices for: (a) HV-HF SiC devices for Power Grid, Pulsed power and Directed Energy Weapons; and (b) High temperature SiC power devices for aircraft actuators and oil exploration.

“We’ve emerged as a leader in ultra-high voltage SiC technology by leveraging our core competency in device and process design with an extensive suite of fabrication, characterization, and test facilities," concluded Singh. “GeneSiC’s position has now been effectively validated by the US DOE with this significant follow-on award."

Strategically located near Washington, DC in Dulles, Virginia, GeneSiC Semiconductor is an innovator in high-temperature, high-power and ultra high-voltage silicon carbide (SiC) devices. Current development projects include high-temperature rectifiers, SuperJunction Transistors (SJT) and a wide variety of Thyristor based devices.

GeneSiC has or has had prime/sub-contracts from major US Government agencies, including the Department of Energy, Navy, Army, DARPA, and the Department of Homeland Security. The company is currently experiencing substantial growth, and hiring qualified personnel in power-device and detector design, fabrication, and testing.
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