Pulsed evaluation of silicon carbide majority carrier devices



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In the power electronics industry power converters are reaching their physical limits for efficiency, power density, and output power. This is due to the fact that the heart of these power converters relies on silicon switches. High power silicon semiconductors are being pushed to the extreme boundaries of operation in order to maximize these converters. If further advancements are to take place, a new semiconductor material must be investigated, which can overcome limitations of previous generations of silicon based power electronics. As a result, silicon carbide (SiC) has been identified as the material capable of replacing silicon in state-of-the-art high power semiconductor switches used in industrial and military grade power electronics. Experiments to test new SiC JFETs and MOSFETs were designed to study the effects of high stress operation on these devices. These devices were tested under various combinations of high current discharges, high temperature operation (up to 150 °C), and high rate of voltage change (dV/dt). These conditions stress these new devices to physical extremes not capable in a silicon device. The results from these tests are analyzed and correlated back to semiconductor physics to better understand the effects of the stress induced on these devices. Overall these new SiC devices prove to be very resilient to the tests conducted and new tests are proposed to further investigate the safe operating area boundaries.