Utility-Scale Silicon Carbide Power Transistors

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Durham, North Carolina
Project Term:
09/01/2010 - 12/31/2014

Technology Description:

Cree is developing silicon carbide (SiC) power transistors that are 50% more energy efficient than traditional transistors. Transistors act like a switch, controlling the electrical energy that flows through an electrical circuit. Most power transistors today use silicon semiconductors to conduct electricity. However, transistors with SiC semiconductors operate at much higher temperatures, as well as higher voltage and power levels than their silicon counterparts. SiC-based transistors are also smaller and require less cooling than those made with traditional silicon power technology. Cree’s SiC transistors will enable electrical circuits to handle higher power levels more efficiently, and they will result in much smaller and lighter electrical devices and power converters. Cree, an established leader in SiC technology, has already released a commercially available SiC transistor that can operate at up to 1,200 volts. The company has also demonstrated a utility-scale SiC transistor that operates at up to 15,000 volts.

Potential Impact:

If successful, Cree would improve the energy efficiency of power transistors by 50%and help modernize the electric power grid.


This project could contribute to a smarter, more advanced, and more reliable power grid.


This project could reduce up to 50% of the energy lost by power transistors, which would in turn reduce electricity consumption and harmful emissions.


Smaller and less expensive electrical systems would lead to lower power prices. The market for SiC power semiconductors could reach $6 billion by 2016.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Timothy Heidel
Project Contact:
Dr. David Grider
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


US Naval Research Laboratory
ABB, Inc.
Powerex, Inc.
North Carolina State University

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