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Bosch Poised for Leap in E-Mobility Technology

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Bosch Poised for Leap in E-Mobility Technology
Bosch is investing billion euro in turning 300 mm wafers of silicon carbide into semiconductor chips. – Photo Bosch

REUTLINGEN, Germany – Of course it’s focused on electric cars, but undoubtedly the company’s fast-growing e-bike business will also benefit from the newest technology it is introducing. It’s about microchips made of silicon carbide (SiC) that Bosch has developed. The company claims that it brings “A great leap forward in e-mobility as compared to traditional silicon chips. This new extraordinary material will set the pace in power electronics.”

Nowadays, all cars as well as e-bikes feature semiconductors. The new microchips made of silicon carbide (SiC) that Bosch has developed have better electrical conductivity. This enables higher switching frequencies while also ensuring that much less energy is dissipated in the form of heat.

More power and range

“Silicon carbide semiconductors bring more power to electric motors. For motorists, this means a 6 percent increase in range,” says Harald Kroeger, member of the Bosch management board. Bosch manufactures the new generation of semiconductor chips at its Reutlingen plant. Here, the company has been turning out several million microchips every day for decades.

Boost for e-mobility

Bosch says that semiconductors made of silicon carbide set new standards for switching speed, heat loss, and size. “It all begins with additional carbon atoms, which are introduced into the crystalline structure of the ultra-pure silicon used to manufacture semiconductors. The chemical bond created in this way turns the semiconductor chips into real powerhouses. Especially for applications in electric and hybrid vehicles, this means many advantages. In power electronics, they ensure that 50 percent less energy is lost in the form of heat. This saving translates into more efficient power electronics and more energy for the electric motor and therefore for the battery range.”

Downsized batteries

Bosch also claims that semiconductors made of silicon carbide make it possible to downsize batteries for a given range. “This reduces the cost of an electric car’s (and e-bikes, ed) most expensive component, which in turn reduces the vehicle’s price. Silicon carbide semiconductors will transform e-mobility as they offer the possibility not only to develop new functions and IoT applications but also to continuously improve the chips themselves.”

Billion-euro investment

Bosch is the only automotive supplier that also manufactures semiconductors as they are a core component of all electrical systems. The company is investing around a billion euro – the largest single investment in its history – in the elaborate manufacturing process of turning circular discs of silicon or silicon carbide – the 300 mm wafers – into semiconductor chips. Production is to start in the spring of 2020.

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