Microsemi expands Irish site as Silicon Carbide takes off

May 19, 2016 // By Nick Flaherty
APT40SM120:  1200 V / 40 A / 80 mΩ SiC MOSFET
Microsemi is expanding its site in Ennis, in County Clare, Ireland, for the characterisation of the latest Silicon Carbide (SiC) devices as the popularity grows for power designs.

“We are recruiting in Ennis, and that group is looking at the reliability of SiC,” said Brian Wilkinson senior director of Applications Engineering in the Discrete Products Group at Microsemi. “Devices are usually characterised with 100 hr testing but we are also going to do testing in Bend (Oregon, US) and Ennis by the aviation team for the lifetime of the devices under certain conditions, for example for the 150,000 hour reliability.”

The Irish site will be building a custom test system for the devices as the company sees large growth in the popularity of the SiC MOSFETs in aviation, wireless charging for electric vehicles and other power applications. Microsemi has been in Ennis since 1992, when the corporation acquired a Unitrode facility that had originally set up in Ireland in 1979.

“SiC has been significant and we are expecting to see an exponential growth in the next two years, expanding our manufacturing capability internally and with partners,” said Wilkinson. “We can see a fairly substantial growth in SiC. Our Bend, Oregon 6in fab is for SiC manufacture and characterisation and going forward we will increase that capacity, ramping up on MOSFETs.”

Microsemi is also increasing its manufacturing through partners for its SiC technology. “We have agreements with Infineon and Rohm as well as other companies, but it needs a specific type of relationship as our process has an epi layer on top. With the PMC Sierra acquisition our spend with foundries is significant and that has given us more power to negotiate on other technologies,” he said.

The Design Centre in Ennis also designs integrated power solutions for the electrical control units in aircraft. “We are working on those for 5kVa to 50KVa and we will be able to offer a DO-254 software solution,” he said. “That’s a massive growth area for us where we are bringing core expertise for the power module and implementing power algorithms for the control