As the automotive industry shifts towards the electrification of drive trains, the efficiency of power electronics becomes more important. The use of silicon carbide (SiC) devices in power electronics has shown several benefits in efficiency, blocking voltage and high temperature operation. In addition, the ability of SiC to operate at higher frequencies due to lower switching losses can result in reduced weight and volume of the system, which also are important factors in vehicles. However, the reliability of packaged SiC devices is not yet fully assessed. Previous work has predicted that the different material properties of SiC compared to Si could have a large influence on the failure mechanisms and reliability. For example, the much higher elastic modulus of SiC compared to Si could increase strain on neighboring materials during power cycling. In this work, the failure mechanisms of packaged Si- and SiC-based power devices have been investigated following power cycling tests. The packaged devices were actively cycled in 4.5 s heating and 20 s cooling at ΔT = 60–80 K. A failure analysis using micro-focus X-ray and scanning acoustic microscopy (SAM) was carried out in order to determine the most important failure mechanisms. The results of the analysis indicate that the dominant failure mechanism is wire bond lift-off at the device chip for all of the SiC-based devices. Further analysis is required to determine the exact failure mechanisms of the analyzed Si-based devices. In addition, the SiC-based devices failed before the Si-based devices, which could be a result of the different properties of the SiC material.

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