Report’s Key Features
- IP trends, including time-evolution of patent publications, countries of patent filings, etc.
- Patent segmentation:
- WBG power modules.
- Hybrid modules, IPM.
- EV/HEV applications.
- Challenges: Reduction of parasitics, heat dissipation (sub-segment double sided cooling), Thermomechanical issues, miniaturization.
- Die-attach: Silver sintering, copper sintering, TLP.
- Encapsulation (sub-segment: molding encapsulation).
- Ranking of main patent assignees.
- Established IP players and new entrants in the WBG power module patent landscape.
- IP profile of main players:
- Statistical analysis of patent portfolio including patent segmentation, legal status, time evolution, etc.
- Noteworthy patents relating new products/technologies.
- Recent IP activity.
- Excel database containing all patents analyzed in the report, including technology and application segmentations.
Power modules for EV/HEV applications: new requirements and new technologies have led to an acceleration in patent filings from 2010 to 2015
The last decade has seen EV/HEV applications driving packaging innovation in power electronics and creating new equations to solve for module makers, in particular further downsizing, higher power density, higher reliability and lower cost/higher manufacturability. On top of that, automotive OEMs are asking for highly standardized power modules, while most module makers focus on proprietary module designs through which they can offer more differentiating added value. In this context, automotive OEMs and Tiers-1 are expected to become more and more intrusive in the power module area.
Furthermore, EV/HEV applications are also pushing the adoption of new wideband gap (WBG) semiconductor technologies, especially SiC-MOSFETs whose commercial availability has continuously increased. However, to fully benefit from power SiC technology, it is crucial to enable high-temperature operation in SiC modules (200-300°C), e.g. through new packaging materials, as well as high-speed operation, by minimizing parasitic inductance.
As a result, the last decade was marked by extensive innovation in power module design and packaging, leading to a very high volume of patent publications: more than 7,000 inventions were disclosed, and more than 16,000 applications were filed. In this context, the publisher has analyzed the recent patenting activity to identify the main IP players active in the next generation power module patent landscape and their IP dynamics.
The IP competition is becoming more global and module makers have been progressively joined by competitors from the EV/HEV supply chain
Top module makers in Europe (Infineon, Semikron) and Japan (Mitsubishi Electric, Fuji Electric, Hitachi) have been very active to keep their leadership in the power module patent landscape since 2010. Interestingly, major foreign module makers are increasingly competing with their counterparts in Europe, by filing more and more European patent applications. Certain automotive OEMs (Toyota Motor, Hyundai Motor) and Tiers-1 (Denso, Bosch) are now well-established patent assignees. In addition, several notable players from the EV/HEV supply chain have joined the IP competition: semiconductor manufacturers (Cree/Wolfspeed), OEMs (Ford, BYD), and Tiers-1 (Valeo, Continental, ZF).
For EV/HEV applications, the difficult challenges have led to several IP collaborations between module makers/automotive Tiers-1 and automotive OEMs (Hyundai Motor/Infineon, ABB/Audi, Toyota Motor/Denso, Valeo/Siemens, etc. In China, major modules makers (CRRC, Macmic, Starpower) have demonstrated moderate patenting activity as of 2020, while new IP players have stepped up (CETC).
The WBG power module patent landscape dominated by leading SiC MOSFET IP players
Numerous IP players in the power module patent landscape have built up a significant portfolio of patent related to SiC MOSFET technologies, especially trench MOSFET technology (Rohm, Infineon, Fuji Electric, Toyota Motor, etc.) targeting automotive applications. Accordingly, they now develop their own technology for full-SiC power modules. Most of them already had a foot in power module technology, except Cree / Wolfspeed, which started from APEI’s acquisition filing patents specifically for SiC power modules. The author expects the number of patents for SiC power modules to continue growing in the next five years, as development is still on-going for many module makers (at die and module levels). According to the present segmentation, IP players such as Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric and Toyota Motor are also developing key technologies (reduction of stray inductance, silver and copper sintering, TLP for die-attach) to address WBG-related challenges. Lately, the publisher has identified several newcomers to the WBG power module patent landscape, including Audi, On Semiconductor, Danfoss & Shindengen Electric Manufacturing.
The patent portfolio of nearly 40 leading players is statistically analyzed to provide an overview of its strength (number granted per segment), its potential for reinforcement (pending applications per segment) and the player’s IP dynamics (number of new inventions per year for WBG and for non WBG/generic power modules). The 2010-2020 IP activity of the player is then reviewed in light of recent announcements related to WBG, EV/HEV and related challenges (new product, new package, new technology, new partnership, new project, etc.). Finally, the analysis focuses on the very latest patent publications.
Useful Excel patent database
This report also includes an extensive Excel database with the 7,000+ patent families analyzed in this study. This useful patent database allows for multi-criteria searches and includes patent publication numbers, hyperlinks to the original documents, priority date, title, abstract, patent assignees, patent’s current legal status, and technological and application segments.
- Scope of the report
- Key feature of the report
- Main patent assignees cited in the report
- Patent search, selection and analysis
- Patent segmentation
- Terminology for patent analysis
- Time evolution of patent publications
- Top patent assignees
- Short description of main patent assignees
- Current legal status of the top patent portfolios
- Countries of filings for granted and pending patents
- Time evolution of company HQ
- IP collaborations & IP transfers
- Time evolution of the patenting activity by segment
- Technology coverage of IP portfolios
- Top patent assignees in each segment
- EV/HEV applications vs. Semicon. Device Technology
- Reduction of parasitics vs. Semicon. Device Technology
- Statistical analysis of the portfolio (IP tends, geographical coverage, granted patents, pending patent applications, technology, technical challenges, applications)
- Noteworthy patents relating new products/technology developments
- Description of the recent patenting activity
- Mitsubishi Electric, Hitachi, Denso, Rohm, Fuji Electric, Toyota Motor, Sumitomo Electric, Mitsubishi Materials, Nissan, Sanken Electric, Toshiba, Murata, Shindengen, Meiden, Calsonic Kansei
- Infineon, ABB, Semikron, Bosch, Danfoss, Siemens, Valeo US IP players GE, Cree/Wolfspeed, Ford, On Semiconductor
- Delta Electronics Korean IP players Hyundai/Kia, Samsung Electronics/SEMCO
- Midea, CRRC, Starpower, Gree, SGCC, CETC, BYD, Macmic, Shenzhen Yitong Power Electronics
A selection of companies mentioned in this report includes:
- CRRC Times Electric
- Calsonic Kansei
- Cree Wolfspeed
- Danfoss Silicon Power
- Delta Electronic
- Delta Electronics
- Ford Global Technologies
- Fuji Electric
- General Electric
- Gree Electric Appliances
- Hitachi Metals
- Honda Motor
- Hyundai Motor
- Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI)
- Infineon Technologies
- Kia Motors
- Macmic Science & Technology
- Meidensha Electric Manufacturing
- Mitsubishi Electric
- Mitsubishi Materials
- Murata Manufacturing
- Nissan Motor
- On Semiconductor
- Renesas Electronics
- Robert Bosch
- Samsung Electro Mechanics
- Samsung Electronics
- Sanken Electric
- Semikron Elektronik
- Shindengen Electric Manufacturing
- Showa Denko
- Starpower Semiconductor
- State Grid Corporation Of China (SGCC)
- Sumitomo Electric Industries
- Tohoku University BMW
- Toyota Central Research & Development Labs
- Toyota Motor
- University of Cambridge
- University of Maryland
- University of Sheffield
- Virginia Tech
- Waseda University
- Yangzhou Guoyang Electronic
- ZF Friedrichshafen
- Zhejiang University
The search strategy combines keyword-based searches with expert review and manual screening of the patents. Keywords are searched in the title, abstract, claims and description. Relevant IPC (International Patent Classification) and CPC (Cooperative Patent Classification) are also used for the patent search. The dataset of identified patents is manually cleaned of non-relevant patents. Citing and cited patents of selected relevant patents are also included in the search strategy. The search strategy (keywords and search equations) and the dataset of selected patents is provided in our reports.
The publisher's analysts (PhD team) combine their technical and patent expertise with powerful analytics tools and proprietary methodologies to deliver the most relevant patent analyses.