Editorial Feature

The Use of Semiconductors in Automotive Manufacturing

With the automotive sector aiming towards more reliable, efficient, and safe cars, the incorporation of semiconductors in vehicles has seen a major boost. The number of semiconductor chips in a modern car varies with the type; however, one can expect the number in the range of 1000 – 3500. New types of sensors, such as enhanced lidars and smart cameras, are being incorporated into newer cars. These sensors are based on advanced semiconductor chips, which ensure maximum efficiency.

Semiconductors in Automotive, Semiconductors in Automotive Manufacturing

Image Credit: cono0430/Shutterstock.com

New Semiconductors in Vehicles: Major Improvements in Connectivity

Modern vehicles are manufactured with the latest electronics and features that aid the driver during traveling. In-vehicle GPS is a major technology that has seen significant improvements in the last decade.

This GPS is operated via the integration of modern semiconductors in vehicles. The system behind these GPS systems is the High-grade legacy node semiconductor system. This fine-tuned system is installed during the manufacturing and assembling of modern cars. All the key data is processed by a multifunctional semiconductor chip, ensuring accurate and swift vehicle control.

How are Semiconductor Chips Essential for Smooth Engine Operation?

The strategic positioning of semiconductors in vehicles enables various components to function efficiently. Semiconductor chips are a part of Engine Control Units (ECUs). In modern vehicles, numerous ECUs are present, with each ECU performing a specific task, mostly regulating various essential engine performance parameters.

The semiconductors in vehicles are used for the analysis of engine temperature and pressure sensor data, adjusting the fuel injection for optimum combustion, optimization of ignition timing, as well as managing emissions. In short, the semiconductors in vehicles are essential for improved fuel efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Role of Semiconductor Chips in Power Steering

Modern cars are equipped with modern systems to aid the drivers, especially during cruise conditions, to avoid collisions. The system called “Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)” is particularly useful for controlling the vehicle during a high-speed cruise on highways, and assistance for traveling in the same lane.

These systems have semiconductor chips that enhance vehicle handling and steering feedback, contributing to improved vehicle safety by adjusting the steering torque based on vehicle speed and delivering active torque in crucial driving scenarios. These semiconductor chips eliminate the need for hydraulic components, simplifying the manufacturing process.

New semiconductor chips are being designed for Electric Power Steering (EPS) systems. Companies are developing semiconductor chips for the next generation of EPS systems, incorporating key semiconductor components like power supply, microcontrollers, half-bridge drivers, MOSFETs, CAN transceivers, and sensors.

Semiconductor Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems in Vehicles

Technology plays a pivotal role in automotive semiconductors. MEMS-based semiconductors provide advanced actuation and sensing capabilities to the automotive industry, contributing to enhanced vehicle safety, comfort, and performance. This technology enables intelligent systems to monitor and respond to various vehicle and environmental conditions, thereby improving the overall driving experience.

Semiconductor Technology: Backbone of Electric Vehicles (EVs)

The traditional vehicles utilized fuel or gas resulting in the release of harmful gases. These gases were among the major contributing factors to global warming and ozone depletion. The use of electric vehicles operated on battery power is the front runner among the different strategies adopted in recent times.

Conventional companies use Silicon semiconductor chips for automotive electronics. However, researchers have been utilizing novel semiconductor materials, including silicon carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN) in automotive applications. These materials surpass silicon, particularly in high-power applications essential for Electric Vehicles (EVs).

These days, most researchers and companies are focusing on increasing the operational time of the vehicle on battery power. This is essential in areas where there aren’t any charging stations present for the consumers. EVs equipped with the largest batteries can cover impressive distances between charges, reaching up to about 400 miles or 640 kilometers.

Silicon Carbide (SiC) has been in development for decades and is rapidly becoming the preferred material for EV manufacturers due to reduced conduction and switching losses, along with a higher maximum operating temperature.

SiC is already powering millions of EVs on the road today. These transformative power semiconductor devices exhibit much greater efficiency, surpassing the 90% mark, owing to their capability to switch on and off tens of thousands of times per second.

Additionally, autonomous vehicles hold the promise of revolutionizing the transportation industry by offering superhuman safety capabilities. Enabling these advanced capabilities is only possible via the combination of efficient sensors and computers that are heavily dependent on sophisticated semiconductor technologies.

There has been much interest in autonomous vehicles from the general public. This shifting trend is anticipated to significantly boost the automotive semiconductor market. According to studies, there is a projected growth in semiconductor wafer revenue generation by almost 30% over the next 10 to 12 years, particularly due to electronic and autonomous vehicles.

Major Player in Automotive Semiconductors

The automotive semiconductor market is focused on different systems, such as AI for vehicles, Vehicle-to-Everything technology, etc. Different companies are focused on developing different semiconductor systems which optimize the functioning of the automotive components. Texas instruments, NXP semiconductors, Intel Corporation, and Infineon Technologies are among the top automotive semiconductor manufacturers.

The future of the automotive sector is dependent on semiconductor technology. With the automotive industry aiming towards efficient cars, the use of semiconductors in vehicles will surely skyrocket.

More from AZoM: Emerging System-on-a-Chip Trends to Watch Out For

References and Further Reading

ACL Digital, (2023). The Contribution of Semiconductors to the Automotive Industry. [Online]
Available at: https://www.acldigital.com/blogs/contribution-semiconductors-automotive-industry

IDTechEx, (2023). Semiconductors for Autonomous and Electric Vehicles 2023-2033. [Online]
Available at: https://www.idtechex.com/en/research-report/semiconductors-for-autonomous-and-electric-vehicles-2023-2033/921

Kumar, A., (2021). Semiconductor Devices for Automobiles. [Online]
Available at: https://www.sme.org/technologies/articles/2021/september/semiconductor-devices-for-automobiles/

Market Prospects, (2022). What are the Components of Automotive Semiconductors?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.market-prospects.com/articles/what-are-the-components-of-automotive-semiconductors

Silicon Semiconductor, (2023). Automotive semiconductors: Changing the face of vehicular electronics. [Online]
Available at: https://siliconsemiconductor.net/article/116411/Automotive_semiconductors_Changing_the_face_of_vehicular_electronics

Singh, S., (2023). Semiconductors in the Automotive Industry: A Game Changer for the Tech-First Automobile Space. [Online]
Available at: https://appinventiv.com/blog/benefits-of-semiconductor-technology-in-automotive/#:~:text=High%2Dgrade%20legacy%20node%20semiconductors,timely%20control%20of%20the%20vehicle

The ST Blog, (2023). How Semiconductor Technology is Accelerating Electric Vehicle Growth. [Online]
Available at: https://blog.st.com/how-semiconductor-technology-is-accelerating-electric-vehicle-growth/

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Ibtisam Abbasi

Written by

Ibtisam Abbasi

Ibtisam graduated from the Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering. During his academic career, he has worked on several research projects and has successfully managed several co-curricular events such as the International World Space Week and the International Conference on Aerospace Engineering. Having won an English prose competition during his undergraduate degree, Ibtisam has always been keenly interested in research, writing, and editing. Soon after his graduation, he joined AzoNetwork as a freelancer to sharpen his skills. Ibtisam loves to travel, especially visiting the countryside. He has always been a sports fan and loves to watch tennis, soccer, and cricket. Born in Pakistan, Ibtisam one day hopes to travel all over the world.

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