Discuss some key uses for silicon

No car can do without intelligent semiconductors

They regulate the drive and driving behavior or trigger the airbag: today no car can drive without semiconductors. Not only the automobile manufacturers and suppliers are noticing this these days. There is currently an acute shortage of components for semiconductors on the global procurement market. Due to the Corona crisis and the resulting drop in sales in the automotive industry, semiconductor manufacturers had switched their production to other customer industries, such as consumer electronics. In the meantime, however, the car markets have recovered significantly, especially in China. This exacerbates the current situation and the industry lacks the corresponding electronic components. How long the bottleneck will affect the automotive industry and other sectors does not seem to be foreseeable yet. The current critical situation on the chip market is exacerbated by increasing digitization, electrification and automation. According to the Central Association of the Electrical and Electronics Industry (ZVEI), the global semiconductor market grew by four percent to 428 billion dollars, despite the Corona crisis in 2020. This growing importance of semiconductors in the automotive industry is also reflected in our main focus.

2020 | OriginalPaper | Book chapter

Power electronic components

This chapter introduces the most important power electronic components from which the assemblies required in hybrid and electric vehicles, especially DC / DC and DC / AC converters, are built. These are mainly semiconductor valves (diodes) and power electronic switches (MOSFET, IGBT).

Further specialist literature and articles on the topic:

04/01/2020 | Cover story | Issue 4/2020

Leakage inductance in power semiconductors in electromobility

Power electronics play an important role in electromobility, as they ensure the efficient transfer of power from the battery to the motor. Silicon carbide as a new semiconductor base material enables more efficient solutions, among other things, due to lower switching losses and higher switching frequencies compared to silicon: According to ABB, however, it is important for the overall system to improve the interfaces and the internal structure of the power electronics so that leakage inductances are optimized.

01/01/2021 | Development | Issue 1/2021

Inverter and motor optimization using SiC technology

New silicon carbide mosfets increase the efficiency of electrical drives and inverters. Compared to silicon IGBTs, they enable longer ranges and faster charging at 800 V. Vitesco Technologies has investigated which factors determine the best system configuration of inverter and motor on an integrated axle drive with a prototype 800 V SiC inverter.

10.12.2019 | Semiconductors | Explained in a nutshell | Online article

What role does silicon carbide play in electromobility?

The semiconductor silicon carbide is currently on everyone's lips. SiC semiconductors promise more power for electric drives. We have given a compact explanation of why SiC can advance electromobility.

2020 | book

Basics of semiconductor physics

What physics and electrical engineering students should know

This textbook was written to provide you with an efficient and understandable introduction to semiconductor physics and the applications of semiconductor electronics. It will help you - even if you have not heard anything about quantum mechanics etc. before - to acquire the basic knowledge of semiconductor physics in an efficient way and to learn what is really important for a beginner in this field. The book is therefore limited to the most essential basics of the electronic properties of bulk semiconductors and their use in semiconductor components.

2021 | OriginalPaper | Book chapter


As different as the applications of different control units are, the basic structure is very similar. Each control unit has a computer core, although there are considerable differences in performance. Control units that implemented complex functions exclusively using analog circuit technology, as in the 1970s, are no longer relevant today. The task of a control device is the processing of sensor signals and actuation of actuators, e.g. B. via control algorithms.

04/01/2018 | Development | Edition 2/2018

Silicon carbide semiconductors for the electric drive train

New ways must be explored for the electrification of the powertrain. Power semiconductors made from silicon carbide can be an interesting solution for frequency converters and rectifiers. AVL explains the technical advantages - faster switching frequencies as well as reduced weight and volume - of this semiconductor material compared to conventional, silicon-based IGBT power semiconductors.

07/01/2019 | Development | Issue 7-8 / 2019

Semiconductors for compact and cost-efficient onboard chargers

Onboard chargers are a must in every fully electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. In the article, Infineon explains which parameters are important when developing such chargers and how these can be achieved with suitable semiconductor components.

2019 | OriginalPaper | Book chapter

Semiconductors for on-board network applications

Semiconductor switches are becoming more and more important in the automotive sector, be it as a controlled light switch, motor controller, fuse or as a current limiter for the start-stop starter. In the voltage range up to approx. 100 V MOSFETs are used, over 100 V IGBTs.

2019 | OriginalPaper | Book chapter


In electrical engineering, a distinction is made between active and passive electronic components. Passive components are electrical resistances, capacitors (or capacitances) and coils (or inductances). Their electrical properties are constant over time and can at best be adjusted by moving mechanical elements (e.g. controllable resistors (= potentiometers) and controllable capacitors).

2018 | OriginalPaper | Book chapter

Semiconductor technology

Based on the conduction mechanisms in semiconductors, the properties of diodes and transistors are discussed. Fields of application of the most important diode types are presented in overviews and then dealt with in detail. In the case of transistor circuits, both bipolar and field effect transistors are presented.

2019 | OriginalPaper | Book chapter

Power electronics

Power electronic actuators are indispensable in hybrid and electric vehicles. There they are used in particular for drive control, energy management in the on-board network and the battery charging process. In addition, power electronics will make a significant contribution to value creation in the future.

2019 | OriginalPaper | Book chapter

Basics of semiconductors

Semiconductors are often the basic material of active electronic components. Some basic properties of semiconductors are discussed below. This knowledge is essential for understanding the properties and function of components made of semiconductor material. It is also required for the practical use of semiconductor components in order to be able to estimate the consequences of changed application or boundary conditions (e.g. a change in temperature).