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High-Temperature Characterization and Comparison of 1.2 kV SiC Power Semiconductors
Keywords: Wide bandgap semiconductors, high-temperature, silicon carbide
A significant effort has been devoted so far to test and characterize the numerous Silicon Carbide (SiC) power semiconductor devices under development. SiC MOSFETs have received a lot of attention up to now given their relative maturity and expected ease of commercial success. As such, they were fully characterized in [1-3], had their performance compared to Si IGBTs in [4-6], and were compared against other SiC devices in [7-9]. Nonetheless few studies have assessed their high-temperature operation (up to 200 ºC), a condition of great interest given that it is one of the major advantages offered by SiC over Si. This capability further has the potential to open numerous new application areas. Incidentally, recent studies have shown that the gate-oxide of SiC MOSFETs is reliable beyond 200 °C [10-12], which remained as one of the major barriers of this device until now. Focused on high-temperature operation, this paper seeks to provide insight into state-of-the-art SiC power semiconductors by characterizing and comparing the latest generation of 1.2 kV SiC MOSFET, BJT, SJT, and (normally-off) JFET devices from the semiconductor industry’s main players; namely Cree, Infineon, Rohm, GE, Fairchild, GeneSiC and SemiSouth. To carry out the study, both static and dynamic characterizations were performed from 25 ºC up to 200 ºC. For static characterization, a Tektronix 371b curve tracer and Agilent 4294A impedance analyzer were used, while the dynamic characterization was carried out using a double-pulse test setup. A hotplate was used in both cases to heat up the devices to the desired testing conditions. The results obtained were normalized for comparison purposes using the die area to compute the specific on-resistance and switching energy loss density of each device. The key results obtained show that the SiC BJT features the lowest specific on-resistance of all the devices studied, even at 200 ºC, while the SiC MOSFETs exhibited the highest. The specific on-resistance of the normally-off SiC JFET proved to experience the greatest temperature dependence, increasing by more than three times its room temperature value at 200 ºC. Regarding switching energy loss, the SiC MOSFETS showed a nearly constant behavior with increasing temperature. This behavior is due to the decrease in the threshold and plateau voltages at high temperature, which causes the turn on energy loss to decrease and the turn off energy to increase. The full paper will present the in-depth evaluation of the aforementioned devices, including their complete static and dynamic characterization and a detailed description of the gate driving requirements that they impose given the significant impact that the latter have on their operational performance. Special emphasis will be given accordingly to: the gate drive circuit structure, common-mode and differential-mode circuit paths, and the physical layout of both gate drive and power stage circuits necessary to attain maximum performance with these devices.
Christina DiMarino, Graduate Student
CPES at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Blacksburg, VA

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