EETimes – PowerUP: All Together Now!

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Ensuring a sustainable energy future for our planet is a key engineering goal. As the global population increases, the need for new energy approaches is pushing toward greater sustainability. In order to slow the effects of climate change, we must reduce emissions to zero, a task requiring nothing less than a revolution in energy production.

As global demand for electricity and data connectivity surges, it’s clear that power electronics will play a key role in meeting demand by making our devices more efficient and more affordable. The watchword is efficiency.

As technologies like solar photovoltaics strive to advance energy applications, continuous development of dependable solutions for power production, storage and transmission is critical. Power semiconductors based on gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon carbide (SiC) will emerge as a way to improve power supply efficiency in industrial applications while also boosting renewable energy.

These and other challenges will be addressed during PowerUP Expo, a virtual conference and exhibition aimed at exploring the future of power electronics. The three-day event opens on Dec. 7 with a series of tutorials on power electronic technology, including wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductors and motor control.

Alex Lidow, CEO of EPC, will open the proceedings with a discussion of GaN fundamentals, including the material’s thermal and electrical advantages in comparison to silicon counterparts. Victor Veliadis, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University and the CEO and CTO of PowerAmerica, will next discuss the benefits of SiC material properties, as well as material and device fabrication considerations. His talk will focus on MOSFET design utilized in the vast majority of SiC-based power electronics.

Design considerations for SiC and GaN technologies, likely to be key players in high-voltage applications, will be discussed by Nexperia’s Sebastian Fahlbusch, application marketing manager, and Sebastian Klötzer, principal application engineer. To reap the full potential of these technologies, the course will address PCB layout, design and measurement challenges. Practical examples and measurements will be demonstrated.

The first day end with an address by Jinchang Zhou, product line manager at Onsemi, titled “Extend Power Density and Lifetime of Latest IGBT Power Module in Motor Drive thru Transfer Molded Technology.”  The talk will cover transfer molded technology for the latest IGBT power modules across several motor applications.

GaN and SiC are emerging as viable options for power electronics. The energy required to move electrons from the valence to conduction bands in GaN and SiC qualifies them as WBG semiconductors (1.1 eV for silicon, 3.2 eV for SiC, and 3.4 eV for GaN). Those attributes yield higher applicable-breakdown voltage, that in some applications can approach 1,700 V. Power semiconductors based on GaN and SiC technology also may offer a path to more efficient power delivery in industrial settings while also accelerating growth of the renewable energy sector.

On Dec. 8, Victor Veliadis will kick off the second day of PowerUP with an overview of SiC technology. Veliadis will examine the challenges and opportunities in implementing the technology.

The latest advances in GaN power devices will be addressed by Robert Kaplar, manager of the Semiconductor Material and Device Sciences Department at Sandia National Laboratories. Kaplar with a focus on epitaxial growth, device design, processing and characterization.

Toni Versluijs, general manager of Nexperia’s MOS and GaN unit, will detail market adoption of GaN, including applications, technology and packaging innovations. Filippo Di Giovanni, manager of strategic marketing, innovation and key programs at STMicroelectronics, will address progress and challenges faced in employing WBG semiconductors. Versluijs will also discuss new packaging concepts needed to mesh with unique WBG electrical and physical features.

Following the keynotes, the conference shifts to technical presentations on a variety of WBG topics. I will moderate a panel discussing the next wave of GaN and SiC applications. This session starts with introductory presentations from panelists, followed by discussion and Q&A session.

Panelists and presentation topics include:

  • Alex Lidow, CEO and co-founder, EPC: “GaN Integration Technology and Roadmaps”
  • Pete Losee, director of technology development, UnitedSiC: “Expanding 750V Gen 4 product series with 6mohm SiC FET”
  • Stephen Olivier, vice president of corporate marketing and investor relations, Navitas Semiconductor: “Electrify Our World”
  • Guy Moxey, senior director of power products, Wolfspeed: “SiC driving the change in renewable energy power conversion”
  • Rob Rhoades, president and CTO, X-Trinsic: SiC Wafering: “The essential bridge from boules to device-ready wafers”
  • Caroline O’Brien, CEO, Kubos Semiconductors: “Delivering a New Era of LEDs with Cubic GaN”

Motor control
Cost-effective, energy-efficient motor control solutions simplify design and provide a high degree of integration as well as increased safety features and verified isolation capabilities. This, as efficiency requirements for these applications continue to tighten.

On Dec. 9, we’ll take a closer look at motor control trends, with a focus on industrial automation and defect detection. Peter Friedrichs, senior director of SiC at Infineon Technologies, will introduce the session, discussing the advantages of WBG power switches, SiC MOSFETs in drives and the opportunities presented by these technologies.

Jeff De Angelis, vice president of industrial communications and motion control at Analog Devices, will discuss industrial automation and AI observer algorithms, leading to self-aware devices that can increase efficiency and extend operational lifetime while reducing operating expenses.

Christian Ionescu Catrina, product marketing manager at Power Integrations, will discuss “Built-in Motor and System Fault Detection and Reporting Reduces Field Returns.” The presentation will examine how the ability to diagnose issues remotely can reduce downtime.

After opening and keynotes talks, the conference again shifts to technical sessions on various aspects of motor control. Another moderate panel will examine the challenges faced in deploying industrial motor control applications.

Panelists and the topics include:

  • Marco Palma, director of motor drive systems and applications, EPC: “GaN advantages in motor drive applications”
  • Matt Watson, general manager of the C2000 Real-time Microcontroller Business, Texas Instruments: “How real-time control technology is making motor control more efficient, sustainable and affordable”
  • Christoph Baumgartner, embedded solutions engineer, Microchip Technology: “High Efficiency Motor Control with Microchip”
  • Bruce Renouard, CEO, Pre-Switch: “Ultra-efficiency (>99.5%) for everyone – How AI power control eliminates switching losses, filter losses, and motor losses”
  • Peter Friedrichs, senior director of SiC, Infineon Technologies: “Disruptive solutions enabled by WBG in motor drives”

Energy future

We’ll explore electrification and future energy trends on Dec. 9, beginning with Thar Casey, founder, president, and CEO of Amber Solutions, contemplating the second electrical revolution and new approaches to energy usage, including electric cars. Asif Jakwani, senior vice president and general manager of the Advance Power Division at Onsemi, will discuss how to meet the electrification demands of the 21st century to attain a net-zero future. Steve Lambouses, vice president and general manager of high voltage power at Texas Instruments, will consider the role of low-power semiconductors as well as squeezing more power into smaller packages while creating more efficient, longer-lasting electronic products.

The conference then moves to another round of technical talks centered on future energy trends. A moderated panel includes:

  • Patrick Le Fèvre, chief marketing and communication officer, Powerbox: “Which role hydrogen will play in energy storage?”
  • Gopal Mitra, industrial segment leader, ABB Power Conversion: “Powering Fast Chargers: Removing Barriers to Wide-Spread EV Adoption”
  • Conor Power, director of the Automation and Energy Group, Analog Devices: “Renewable Energies: Challenges and hopes for a clean future”
  • Guy Moxey, senior director of power products, Wolfspeed: “The Power Distribution Revolution Enabled by Mid-High Voltage SiC”
  • Peter Wasmuth, European head, Polarium: “The missing link in the renewable energy system

It’s time for PowerUP! Free register is here.

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