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July 25, 20234 min read

Power Semiconductors - Empowering a World of Unlimited Green Energy

This is a summary from the presentation by the same title by Andrea Piccioni, Senior Engineer of Infineon, at the Future of Electrification 2023 conference. Watch the full session here: 

During a presentation at the Future of Electrification 2023 conference, Andrea Piccioni, Senior Engineer of Infineon, and his colleague Giovanni Parino discussed the significance of power semiconductors in empowering a world of unlimited green energy.

The world is facing a climate crisis, and reducing carbon emissions has become a critical priority for governments, businesses, and individuals worldwide. Currently, renewable energy sources account for 12% of the global energy supply, and by 2025, they are projected to become the primary source. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are essential for reducing carbon emissions, but transforming electrical energy from these sources into usable power requires critical components known as power semiconductors. Found within power converters, semiconductors convert the electrical energy generated by renewables into usable power that can be distributed to consumers via the electrical grid. By facilitating this energy conversion and distribution process, power semiconductors enable the seamless integration of renewable energy into the existing power infrastructure.

During the presentation, Piccioni emphasized the importance of power semiconductors in the power transformation chain for renewable energy sources and stressed the need for high-efficiency and high-performance solutions. Infineon, as a leading provider of semiconductor solutions, is well-positioned to meet these requirements. The company offers a comprehensive range of power semiconductor technologies to support the utilization of renewable energy sources. Infineon has developed and refined its silicon-based and silicon carbide-based solutions over two decades. These solutions cater to a wide spectrum of power and switching frequencies and are suitable for various applications. Infineon's power semiconductor solutions provide high efficiency, reliability, and performance, making them an essential component in developing a greener and more sustainable future.

Infineon’s range of power technologies, including silicon carbide and gallium nitride (GaN) solutions, cater to different power requirements and applications. The recent acquisition of a GaN system has further strengthened Infineon's market position and expanded its capabilities. GaN is a wide-bandgap semiconductor material that offers several advantages over traditional silicon-based semiconductors. It enables efficient power conversion, facilitating the development of compact and lightweight power systems without compromising on efficiency and reliability. One advantage of Infineon's GaN solutions is their ability to enable compact and efficient power supplies for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. GaN-based power devices allow for faster charging times, reduced size, and improved energy efficiency, therefore contributing to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles and other automotive applications that depend on electric power.

Piccioni also addressed the pressing issue of power semiconductor shortages. To tackle this challenge and meet increasing demand, Infineon has made significant investments in a new fabrication facility. It is designed to produce semiconductor wafers with a larger diameter of 300mm, as opposed to the more common 200mm wafers. The transition from 200mm to 300mm wafer production offers several advantages. It allows for increased production capacity, as larger wafers can accommodate more individual semiconductor chips. The 300mm fabrication facility also enables improved cost efficiency and manufacturing productivity. With larger wafers, more semiconductor chips can be produced in a single fabrication run, reducing manufacturing costs per unit. Additionally, advanced manufacturing processes and technologies can be implemented more efficiently on larger wafers, resulting in higher yields and improved overall product quality. This strategic initiative demonstrates Infineon's commitment to addressing market needs and ensuring a stable supply of power semiconductors.

In addition to power technologies, Infineon provides system solutions, such as switch drivers and control integrated circuits (ICs). They are designed to provide seamless integration, optimal performance, and efficient operation of power electronic systems. Infineon’s diverse portfolio of ICs serve as key building blocks for system designs, enabling intelligent and customized control, monitoring, and communication functions. Leveraging its extensive system know-how, Infineon provides customers with reference designs and application expertise, enabling them to achieve high levels of performance.

One example of Infineon’s system know-how is their Active Bridge 11-kilowatt reference board. It is designed for high-power applications, such as electric vehicle charging and energy storage systems. It supports bidirectional power flow, from vehicles to the grid and vice versa, while offering the flexibility to increase output power by stacking models. It features an easy-to-use graphic user interface and Wi-Fi module. In electric vehicle charging applications, it enables fast and efficient charging while minimizing grid stress.

As the world continues to focus on reducing carbon emissions and achieving net zero targets, power semiconductors will play a critical role in enabling the use of renewable energy sources. Infineon's range of power semiconductor solutions, system solutions, and application expertise will continue to support the development of innovative and sustainable solutions for the world's energy needs. As the demand for power semiconductors continues to increase, Infineon's commitment to innovation and substantial investments in manufacturing capabilities enable it to meet this growing demand and actively support the development of a more sustainable future for all.