Silicon has been the go-to material for powering electric vehicles, but it's reaching the limits of its processing power. With cars becoming increasingly connected and demanding more compute power, automakers are looking for more efficient alternatives.
Electric vehicles still make up less than 2% of total vehicles sold globally. Why? Consumers fear that an EV will run out of power before reaching its destination.
Automakers are working to relieve that range anxiety, starting at the materials level.
Silicon is the semiconductor material most commonly used in the vehicle’s power control unit (PCU), and it’s reaching the limits of its processing power.
Chipmakers are struggling to increase the silicon chip’s computing strength without increasing its size, which would add to the vehicle’s weight and ultimately compromise energy efficiency.
As cars become more connected, compute power becomes increasingly important — so automakers are looking for more efficient alternatives.
Wide band gap semiconductors offer a promising solution
A number of firms are looking at wide band gap (WBG) semiconductors, which are more rugged and last longer than conventional semiconductor devices.
Materials like silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) have outperformed silicon across a variety of measures, and can process energy more efficiently on a smaller chip.