5-7 Future of SiC
It can be safely predicted that SiC will never displace silicon as the dominant semiconductor used for the manufacture of the vast majority of the world’s electronic chips that are primarily low-voltage digital and analog chips targeted for operation in normal human environments (computers, cell phones, etc.). SiC will only be used where substantial benefits are enabled by SiC’s ability to expand the envelope of high-power and high-temperature operational conditions such as the applications described in Section 5.3. Perhaps, the only major existing application area where SiC might substantially displace today’s use of silicon is the area of discrete power devices used in power conversion, motor control, and management circuits.
The power device market, along with the automotive sensing market present the largest-volume market opportunity for SiC-based semiconductor components. However, the end consumers in both of these applications demand excruciatingly high reliability (i.e., no operational failures) combined with competitively low overall cost. For SiC electronics technology to have large impact, it must greatly evolve from its present status to meet these demands. There is clearly a very large discrepancy between the revolutionary broad theoretical promise of SiC semiconductor electronics technology (Section 5.3) versus the operational capability of SiC-based components that have actually been deployed in only a few commercial and military applications (Section 5.6). Likewise, a large discrepancy also exists between the capabilities of laboratory SiC devices compared with commercially deployed SiC devices. The inability of many “successful” SiC laboratory prototypes to rapidly transition to commercial product demonstrates both the difficulty and criticality of achieving acceptable reliability and costs.