Silicon Nitride Ceramics: Hard Core Basic Materials In The New Energy Era

12/26/2023 10:06:01

1. Tesla leads the wind vane for silicon nitride ceramic substrates

With Tesla taking the lead in using a large number of silicon nitride ceramic substrates in Model 3 SIC MOSFET devices to solve module heat dissipation problems, silicon nitride ceramic materials have once again entered the industry's sight. Recently, with the vigorous promotion of 800V high-voltage fast charging technology in new energy vehicles, the issue of corrosion of steel ball bearings in traditional drive motors has received attention. Tesla has adopted Japanese NSK hybrid ceramic bearings in the motor output shaft, with bearing balls composed of 50 silicon nitride bearing balls.

Silicon Nitride Ceramic Bearing Balls

2. Mainstream application products of silicon nitride

The rapid growth in downstream demand for new energy, energy storage, and new energy vehicles will further drive the rapid growth of the domestic market for mainstream application products such as silicon nitride structural components (such as silicon nitride ceramic balls, silicon nitride valve balls, and silicon nitride grading wheels) and silicon nitride ceramic substrates.

1). Silicon nitride ceramics as the application trend of future bearings

At present, traditional steel bearings are still the main type, and silicon nitride ceramic bearings, as a new type of application material in the future, have broad potential for substitution. Rolling bearings are composed of rings, rolling elements, retainers, lubricating grease, and sealing elements. Silicon nitride all ceramic ball bearings refer to rolling elements and rings made of silicon nitride material. Under the wave of electrification, steel ball bearings are currently facing problems such as inability to break through the limitations of higher speed requirements, inability to meet the low noise requirements of users for whole vehicles, and corrosion under higher voltage and high switching frequency requirements. Compared with traditional steel balls and other ceramic materials, silicon nitride ceramics have the characteristics of lightweight, high hardness and heat resistance, low friction, corrosion resistance, self-lubricating, etc., and are considered the best material for manufacturing ceramic bearings in the future.

Silicon Nitride Ceramic Bearings

2). Silicon nitride ceramic substrate is the ceramic substrate material with the best comprehensive performance

With the increasing power density of IGBT and third-generation semiconductor power devices, mainstream aluminum oxide substrates with low thermal conductivity, low mechanical strength, poor toughness, high dielectric constant, and high thermal expansion rate can no longer meet the needs of the new energy vehicle market. Silicon nitride ceramics are considered to have the best comprehensive performance as ceramic substrate materials due to their excellent mechanical strength, good chemical stability, and thermal shock resistance. At the same time, with a thermal expansion coefficient close to that of the third-generation semiconductor substrate silicon carbide crystal, it has become the preferred material for high thermal conductivity substrates in third-generation silicon carbide semiconductor power devices. At present, silicon nitride ceramic substrates are widely used in power modules, heat sinks, LEDs, wireless modules, etc. Driven by the growth in demand for power modules, the sales of silicon nitride ceramic substrates in 2024 are about 136.6 million US dollars, with a compound annual growth rate of about 6.45% from 2018 to 2024.

Silicon Nitride Ceramic Substrates

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