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"Without the Electrum lab, we would never have been able to start"

Small-scale company in Kista central to the development of more efficient electricity solutions

Published Feb 16, 2023

The increasing electrification of various parts of our society goes far beyond securing electricity supplies. It is also about minimising losses and developing an infrastructure that, among other things, helps our electric cars to be charged faster.

An essential component of electrification is silicon carbide (SiC), a chemical combination developed for decades but is now a crucial part of modern electricity. This is partly thanks to the work of Coherent, a company in Kista that uses the KTH Electrum lab to develop its technology.

“We have been developing this for 30 years here in Kista. The high demand for silicon carbide is of course fun for us but also crucial to the development of the Electrum laboratory,” says Christian Vieider, CEO of Coherent's subsidiary in Kista, formerly Ascatron.

Vieider and his colleagues develop epitaxy structures for power components in silicon carbide. The company also develops circuits such as diodes and transistors, so-called MOSFETs, which control current for high-voltage applications.

The development of silicon carbide discs was long limited by a series of defects in the materials used. With improved quality, the products have become more reliable, making Coherent a highly sought-after proviuder of optimised electricity components.

”We provide a more efficient way of handling electricity. Silicon carbide also makes it possible to build more compact systems with less material available, which is more important for the higher voltages we are talking about,” Vieider explains.

Tesla behind the demand

To understand what is behind the tremendous demand for silicon carbide, there is a simple answer: Tesla. The company was the first to develop electric cars with SiC components.

”It took a pioneer who believed in this technology for everyone else to follow,” says Vieider.

In the development of silicon carbide semiconductors, the Electrum laboratory in Kista has played a decisive role in being able to test new concepts.

”Without the lab, we would not have been able to start the company and develop the business. Thanks to Electrum, we have demonstrated on a small scale that our technology works which has been of great value to us.”