1,000 years ago, the world was a different place. The Vikings were still raiding Europe and China had not yet discovered gunpowder. But one thing was certain: it would be another millennium before people could travel to space.
The for longer meaning is a phrase that means for a longer period of time.
Companies think that chips built of silicon carbide, a more durable relative of Silicon Valley’s namesake material, may help them create high-performance electric cars, are worth billions of dollars.
Silicon carbide, or SiC, is silicon that has been wedded to carbon, which is the substance that makes up a diamond. Using it in power-control circuits, as Tesla Inc. TSLA 0.28 percent has done for years, means less energy is wasted, resulting in a more powerful motor that can go farther on a single charge.
“We see silicon carbide as an essential material in the design of our power electronics,” GM Vice President Shilpan Amin said this week after the company agreed to use silicon-carbide devices made by Wolfspeed Inc. of Durham, N.C. “Customers of EVs are looking for greater range, and we see silicon carbide as an essential material in the design of our power electronics,” GM Vice President Shilpan Amin said this week after the company agreed to use silicon-carbide devices made by Wolf 0.08 percent WOLF
The major question today is whether the battery cost reductions from silicon carbide chips offset the increased manufacturing cost. According to industry experts, businesses are making headway but are still years away from achieving a cost comparable to silicon.
According to Claire Troadec of French research company Yole Développement, a gadget made of silicon carbide may cost five times as much as one made of ordinary silicon. Silicon carbide is tougher and more brittle than silicon, which makes polishing the surface of a silicon-carbide wafer more difficult without destroying it.
Wolfspeed, which changed its name from Cree Inc. last week, plans to build the world’s largest silicon carbide plant early next year in Utica, New York, with a $1 billion investment. It extended a contract with STMicroelectronics NV in Europe in August, under which it would provide more than $800 million in silicon carbide wafers over many years.
China and the United States are vying for supremacy in silicon-carbide technology, with Beijing seeking to break free from Western reliance.
Applied Materials’ silicon carbide semiconductor fabrication tools.
photo courtesy of Reuters/Applied Materials
The administration of Changsha, the capital of China’s Hunan province, launched a $2.4 billion network of silicon carbide-related facilities in June, with the goal of producing the raw material as well as utilizing it in electronic components.
Foxconn Technology Group, which assembles Apple iPhones, purchased a facility in August that will produce six-inch silicon carbide wafers. This is part of the company’s attempt to build a foundation in auto technology in order to become a contract producer of electric vehicles for worldwide brands. Foxconn agreed to purchase Lordstown Motors Corp.’s Ohio plant last week, with intentions to produce cars for the electric-truck startup and other clients.
Silicon carbide is a material that may be made by combining silicon and carbon in a furnace, and it has a variety of industrial applications. Silicon carbide, like silicon, is a semiconductor, which means its characteristics fall between between those of a conductor like copper and an insulator like rubber.
Third-generation semiconductors, such as silicon carbide, are closer to the insulator side, enabling them to function at greater voltages and temperatures.
Traditional silicon is utilized in certain kinds of devices, such as the microprocessors that power a smartphone, since they don’t need to function under severe circumstances. However, when it comes to regulating electric current, silicon carbide’s benefits matter—especially in the inverter of an electric vehicle, which transforms the direct current produced by the battery into alternating current, which drives the motor and turns the wheels.
Because less energy is wasted in the inverter when silicon carbide chips are utilized, the vehicle may be lighter and provide more power. Similarly, EV charging stations using silicon carbide chips can charge vehicles more quickly.
From the ignition to the brake system, a contemporary vehicle may include over a thousand semiconductors. As the worldwide semiconductor shortage worsens, automakers ranging from GM to Tesla are being pushed to modify output and rethink their whole supply chain. Sharon Shi (illustration/video)
Ms. Troadec of Yole Développement estimates that SiC-related technologies may save carmakers up to $750 per unit in battery prices, depending on the EV type.
Tesla was the first to market with silicon carbide chips, as it was with many other aspects of EV technology, putting them in its mass-market Model 3 when it initially went on sale many years ago. Tesla’s supplier in the pioneering step, according to a Yole Développement study, was STMicroelectronics.
“The SiC components initially utilized in the Tesla Model 3 enabled a significant increase in its range and other performance, towering above other electric vehicles on the market back then,” Kung-Yen Lee, a professor at National Taiwan University, said last month at an industry conference. “SiC is credited with catapulting Tesla to fame.”
A request for comment from Tesla was not returned.
BYD Co., a Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer partially controlled by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has followed suit. BYD markets the Han electric car as a low-cost alternative to premium EVs, with a 0-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds and a price range of $30,000 to $46,000.
At an auto exhibition in Shanghai earlier this year, visitors saw an advertisement promoting BYD’s Han electric car.
Qilai Shen/Bloomberg News photo
In a June report, the White House advocated for more investment in the silicon carbide supply chain, calling the United States a “world leader in SiC deployment.” It suggested that third-generation semiconducting semiconductors like SiC might be used in national-security purposes.
Silicon carbide was featured in China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s five-year strategic plan published in August, which urged businesses to be prepared in the event that the United States limited China’s access to Western technology.
At a September conference, Zhang Yongxi, founder of Shanghai-based SiC chip manufacturer Inventchip Co., stated that reducing the cost of silicon carbide to catch up to its more renowned cousin would be a lengthy road that will need constant investment.
“This gap may close in approximately five to ten years,” he said.
Yang Jie may be reached at [email protected]
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The for a longer time is an article about how people are living longer. It talks about the positive effects of increased life expectancy and how people are able to enjoy their lives.
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