On Reliability of SiC Power Devices in Power Electronics

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Silicon Carbide (SiC) is a wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductor materialwhich has several advantages such as higher maximum electric field, lowerON-state resistance, higher switching speeds, and higher maximum allowablejunction operation temperature compared to Silicon (Si). In the 1.2 kV - 1.7kV voltage range, power devices in SiC are foreseen to replace Si Insulatedgatebipolar transistors (IGBTs) for applications targeting high efficiency,high operation temperatures and/or volume reductions. In particular, theSiC Metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) – which isvoltage controlled and normally-OFF – is the device of choice due to the easeof its implementation in designs using Si IGBTs.In this work the reliability of SiC devices, in particular that of the SiCMOSFET, has been investigated. First, the possibility of paralleling two discreteSiC MOSFETs is investigated and validated through static and dynamictests. Parallel-connection was found to be unproblematic. Secondly, drifts ofthe threshold voltage and forward voltage of the body diode of the SiC MOSFETare investigated through long-term tests. Also these reliability aspectswere found to be unproblematic. Thirdly, the impact of the package on thechip reliability is discussed through a modeling of the parasitic inductancesof a standard module and the impact of those inductances on the gate oxide.The model shows imbalances in stray inductances and parasitic elementsthat are problematic for high-speed switching. A long-term test on the impactof humidity on junction terminations of SiC MOSFETs dies and SiCSchottky dies encapsulated in the same standard package reveals early degradationfor some modules situated outdoors. Then, the short-circuit behaviorof three different types (bipolar junction transistor, junction field-effect transistor,and MOSFET) of 1.2 kV SiC switching devices is investigated throughexperiments and simulations. The necessity to turn OFF the device quicklyduring a fault is supported with a detailed electro-thermal analysis for eachdevice. Design guidelines towards a rugged and fast short-circuit protectionare derived. For each device, a short-circuit protection driver was designed,built and validated experimentally. The possibility of designing diode-lessconverters with SiC MOSFETs is investigated with focus on surge currenttests through the body diode. The discovered fault mechanism is the triggeringof the npn parasitic bipolar transistor. Finally, a life-cycle cost analysis(LCCA) has been performed revealing that the introduction of SiC MOSFETsin already existing IGBT designs is economically interesting. In fact,the initial investment is saved later on due to a higher efficiency. Moreover,the reliability is improved, which is beneficial from a risk-management pointof-view. The total investment over 20 years is approximately 30 % lower fora converter with SiC MOSFETs although the initial converter cost is 30 %higher.

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