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May 8, 2015

Power Quality: Are you SiC Ready?

About SiC Semiconductors

An interesting development is likely to shape the future of switch-mode power supplies.  Wide bandgap materials such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN), offer substantial improvements over current silicon-based devices.  The main advantage of these materials is that they can switch at much faster frequencies with much lower resistance.  These faster-switching frequencies with low resistive losses allow for prodigious improvements in efficiency and reduction of harmonic distortion.

Currently, SiC semiconductors are cost prohibitive compared to silicon devices in all but the most demanding applications.  However, prices are rapidly dropping due to increased yields, better manufacturing technologies, and economies of scale.  SiC devices are quickly becoming more competitive and are seeing greater use across in many industries.

How will this new technology affect the world of power quality solutions?

While SiC will allow for lower harmonic distortion in switch mode power supplies,

While SiC will allow for lower harmonic distortion in switch mode power supplies, this will not override the need for power quality filters.  In fact, in many applications, this high-frequency content be especially detrimental to electronic equipment.

Most current electronic reactors and filters have issues filtering the harmonic content created by high switching frequencies.  Conventional laminated silicon-steel inductors have moderate core losses at low frequencies.  However, core losses in these inductors increase drastically with increasing frequencies; at SiC switching frequencies, current inductor technology cannot meet consumer requirements.  Conventional inductors in these applications will have core losses so high that they will offset any efficiency gains created by SiC.

At CTM, we do not have these same core loss limitations.  Our high frequency filter solutions use advanced, proprietary magnetic materials that exhibit extremely low core losses, even at high frequencies.  Furthermore, through years of research and development, we have optimized our manufacturing process to provide these premium solutions at a cost-competitive price.  Here at CTM, we truly are SiC ready.