Semiconductors made of silicon carbide in the Bosch Waferfab in Reutlingen.
Semiconductors made of silicon carbide in the Bosch Waferfab in Reutlingen.
( Bild: Bosch)

electromobility Bosch develops SiC microchips for electric cars

Editor: Jochen Schwab

Bosch wants to improve the switching speed and range of electric cars. The automotive supplier plans to produce the silicon carbide microchip developed for this purpose in Reutlingen.

The automotive supplier Bosch has developed a silicon carbide (SIC) microchip. According to Bosch, SIC semiconductors have better conductivity than the silicon chips previously used in electromobility. On the one hand, this enables higher switching frequencies and, on the other, ensures that significantly less energy is wasted in the form of heat. The supplier wants to produce the new generation of semiconductor chips at the Reutlingen plant, 40 kilometers south of Stuttgart.

Advantages of electric and hybrid vehicles

Bosch wants to set new standards for switching speed, heat loss and size with the silicon carbide semiconductor. To this end, additional carbon atoms are introduced into the crystal structure of the high-purity silicon otherwise used to manufacture semiconductors. The resulting chemical compound increases the power of the semiconductor chips and offers many advantages, especially for use in electric and hybrid vehicles: In power electronics, they should ensure that 50 percent less energy is lost in the form of heat. The more efficient the power electronics can operate and the more energy is available for the drive and thus the range.

Drivers could drive six percent further with one battery charge. Alternatively, automobile manufacturers could reduce the battery size for a given range.

According to Bosch, silicon carbide semiconductors offer further savings potential for the future. The lower heat losses of the chips and the fact that they operate at higher operating temperatures mean that cooling of the drive components can be reduced. This, in turn, can have a positive effect on the weight and costs of electric vehicles. Bosch plans to use SIC semiconductors in its own power electronics in the future.

This article was first published in German by Automobil Industrie.