Power Electronics

Navy Contract Supports SiC Development for Shipboard Power Management

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded Cree a $12 million contract to develop silicon carbide (SiC)-based high-voltage, high-power electronic devices and power modules. The goal in developing these products is to significantly reduce the size and weight of power management equipment aboard the U.S. Navy’s next-generation aircraft carriers and other sea vessels.

This 18-month contract is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under the Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Technology Initiative for High Power Electronics (WBST-HPE), which is focused on high power conversion and distribution technology. Cree has successfully completed its $8.3 million contract for Phase I of this initiative.

“Building on the tremendous success of Phase I, during which Cree demonstrated 10-kV, 50-A PiN rectifiers and the first 10-kV SiC MOSFETs, we intend to scale these devices in size, and build power modules capable of 10 kV and 110 A during Phase II,” notes John W. Palmour, Cree’s executive vice president, Advanced Devices. “These devices could eventually be used beyond ship applications to optimize electrical power distribution for greater efficiency and rapid power switching across any major power grid, particularly for long-haul lines.”

The Phase II effort also includes development of the extremely low defect density n-type 4H-SiC substrates and epitaxy required for creating these large area high-current, high-voltage power devices. As part of this program, Cree intends to award a number of subcontracts. Powerex, of Youngwood, Pa., is designated to perform module design and testing. Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems of Sudbury, MA, and General Atomics of San Diego, Calif., will perform systems studies on the solid-state power supplies proposed for this application. In addition, Carnegie Mellon University and North Carolina State University also will participate in the program.

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