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SiC sector to soar 37 percent per year, says M&M

The global SiC semiconductor devices’ market revenue is estimated to be roughly $218 million in 2012 and forecasted to reach $5.34 billion by the end of 2022
Silicon carbide (SiC) is an upcoming alternative material to pure silicon in the field of semiconductors & electronics.

For many decades in the latter half of the twentieth century, SiC was used in various other sectors where inherent radiation-resistance, high-temperature operating capacity, high voltage and power handling capacity and flexibility as a substrate, were of importance.

Since then, extensive research has been conducted in utilising SiC for semiconductor devices and electronic systems.

The first commercial use of SiC in semiconductor devices started at the turn of the century. Since then, SiC has penetrated into three major sub-segments of the semiconductor industry; namely the high-temperature semiconductor, power semiconductor and optoelectronic industry, in that order.

While the penetration growth rate is healthy and substantial in high temperature, the penetration rate in power semiconductors is explosive. One of the main reasons for this is the growing application areas in the high-voltage ( above 1 kV) ranges, where SiC offers unique unbeatable efficiency over pure silicon.

In the power semiconductor sector, SiC transistors and diodes first came onto the market in 2003. Since then, enormous growth in the volume of power discretes (MOSFETs, IGBTs, Diodes & Rectifiers, Thyristors and other transistors) have boosted the total revenue of the SiC power electronics market.

Over the past few years, several research & developments activities have taken place to develop SiC-based discretes and ICs that have advanced and sophisticated characteristics and offer better flexibility for use in several power and high-temperature applications.

According to the report “Silicon Carbide (SiC) Semiconductor Materials and Devices (Discretes & Chips) Market, Global Forecasts & Analysis (2012-2022)” by MarketsandMarkets, the SiC semiconductor devices market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 37.67 percent from 2012 to 2022.

The SiC market’s competitive landscape had only a handful of players in the beginning of the previous decade, but it quickly emerged into a vast network with more than forty key players combining both materials & devices.

Currently, the overall SiC power semiconductors market accounts for less than 1 percent of the total power semiconductors market, but over the next ten years, the entire base of power semiconductors & electronics players is expected to penetrate this new value chain, thereby rapidly increasing the percentage share. The global SiC semiconductor devices’ market revenue is estimated to be roughly $218 million in 2012 and forecasted to reach $5.34 billion by end of 2022.

In the case of the SiC power semiconductor market, the phenomenal growth rate of approximately 35 to 50 percent Y-o-Y is expected to continue for the following years and the forecasted revenue for SiC power semiconductors is more than $4 billion by the end of 2022. This is assuming a CAGR of 45.65 percent, and will allow SiC to substantially penetrate the global power semiconductors market and occupy a 13 percent volume share in 2022.

Initially, the SiC opto-semiconductors market revenue was higher than that of power semiconductors, but in 2011, the situation reversed.

The SiC opto-semiconductors market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25.46 percent and cross $600 million by 2022. The main reason for the relatively lower CAGR of SiC opto-semiconductors is the shift of industry preference to sapphire and silicon as substrates over SiC, mainly due to the rising demand of epitaxial GaN in high brightness & ultra-high brightness LEDs. The high cost of SiC as compared to silicon and sapphire substrates is another of the major factors which will hamper that side of the market.

The SiC opto-semiconductors market and high temperature semiconductor markets are currently niche segments, but are expected to grow at healthy CAGRs. Important players who are among the top ten in the overall SiC semiconductor market, have also deeply established bases in the SiC opto & high temperature semiconductor market segments.

The SiC high-temperature semiconductors market is expected to have an excellent growth, but not as fast as power semiconductors, the primary reason being that it is a niche area, with lesser focus on industry players and fewer industry players. The other reasons are cost concerns, relatively lower demand, narrow application areas, and so on.

The SiC high-temperature semiconductors market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 21.87 percent from 2012 to 2022, crossing $350 million by 2022.

In terms of features, SiC devices are much smaller, lighter, and more efficient than conventional silicon semiconductor devices. Continuous developments are on going in the fabrication of SiC power MOSFETs, power JFETs, power thyristors, power Schottky diodes, and other similar discretes.

Having the potential to operate at high temperatures, power levels, and voltages, the number of applications of SiC is increasing day by day in various industries that include telecommunication, automotive, industrial, power electronics, solar & wind and lighting.

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