The improvements (electrical, mechanical, and thermal) that silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) technology has over silicon are numerous. However, in order to take full advantage of this technology, the entire system must be designed to operate reliably and efficiently at higher temperatures, higher current densities, higher frequencies, and smaller sizes than conventional approaches. By developing the corresponding packaging technology associated with the interconnection, housing, and external connections of the devices, the true potential of SiC and GaN can be realized. Key aspects that must be addressed are:
Minimizing thermal resistance
High temperature reliability (i.e. CTE matching)
Advanced packaging materials (base plate, substrate, housing, etc.)
High-temperature attaches and interconnects (solder, epoxy, wire bonds, etc.)
Low parasitic, high frequency functionality
High-temperature and high-voltage encapsulation
Through the implementation of materials and techniques uniquely suited for stability at elevated temperatures and frequencies, the operating point can be extended well past the point where conventional systems fail. This can result in a dramatic increase in the power density by (1) allowing for more power to be processed in the system and (2) reducing the requirements and the corresponding size of the heat removal and filtering systems.
Another useful application for this technology is the placement of electronics in extremely hazardous environments without elaborate enclosures or heavy thermal management systems. These systems can range from drive electronics directly integrated in the motor housing, temperature and strain sensors incorporated in a turbine or combustion chamber, to unshielded electronics on a satellite or interplanetary surface lander.