GaN-on-Si collaboration for power conversion applications
Semiconductor company STMicroelectronics and Leti, a research institute of France’s CEA Tech, have announced their cooperation to industrialise gallium nitride-on-silicon technologies for power switching devices. This Power GaN-on-Si technology will enable ST to address high-efficiency, high-power applications, including automotive onboard chargers for hybrid and electric vehicles, wireless charging and servers.
The collaboration focuses on developing and qualifying advanced Power GaN-on-Si diode and transistor architectures on 200 mm wafers — a market that the research firm IHS Markit estimates to grow at a CAGR of more than 20% from 2019 to 2024. Together, in the framework of Leti’s Nanoelec Research Technological Institute (IRT), the two companies are developing the process technology on Leti’s 200 mm R&D line and expect to have validated engineering samples in 2019. In parallel, ST will set up a fully qualified manufacturing line, including GaN/Si hetero-epitaxy, for initial production running in ST’s front-end wafer fab in Tours, France, by 2020.
In addition, given the attractiveness of GaN-on-Si technology for power applications, Leti and ST are assessing advanced techniques to improve device packaging for the assembly of high power-density power modules.
“Recognising the incredible value of wide-bandgap semiconductors, ST’s contributions in power GaN-on-Si manufacturing and packaging technologies with CEA-Leti move to arm us with the industry’s most complete portfolio of GaN and SiC products and capabilities, on top of our proven competence to manufacture high-quality, reliable products in volume,” said Marco Monti, President Automotive and Discrete Group, STMicroelectronics.
“Leveraging Leti’s 200 mm generic platform, Leti’s team is fully committed to supporting ST’s strategic GaN-on-Si power-electronics roadmap and is ready to transfer the technology onto ST’s dedicated GaN-on-Si manufacturing line in Tours,” added Leti CEO Emmanuel Sabonnadiere. “This co-development, involving teams from both sides, leverages the IRT Nanoelec framework program to broaden the required expertise and innovate from the start at device and system levels.”
The news comes around eight months after ST announced the development of GaN-on-Silicon for RF applications with MACOM Technology Solutions, for MACOM’s use across a broad range of RF applications and for ST’s own use in non-telecom markets. While easy to confuse because both use GaN, the two efforts use structurally different approaches that have different application benefits. For example, Power GaN-on-Si technology is suitable for use on 200 mm wafers, while RF GaN-on-Silicon is better suited to 150 mm wafers. Either way, because they produce low switching losses, GaN technologies suit higher frequency applications.
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