MACOM and STMicroelectronics partner on GaN-on-silicon wafers

STMicroelectronics Pty Ltd

Tuesday, 13 February, 2018

Semiconductor manufacturer STMicroelectronics has agreed with MACOM Technology Solutions, a supplier of high-performance RF, microwave, millimeter-wave and lightwave semiconductor products, to develop GaN (gallium nitride)-on-silicon wafers for MACOM’s use across an array of RF applications.

Through the agreement, MACOM expects to access increased silicon wafer manufacturing capacity and improved cost structure that could displace incumbent silicon LDMOS and accelerate the adoption of GaN on silicon in mainstream markets. The agreement also grants to ST the right to manufacture and sell its own GaN-on-silicon products in RF markets outside of mobile phone, wireless base station and related commercial telecom infrastructure applications.

“This agreement punctuates our long journey of leading the RF industry’s conversion to GaN-on-silicon technology,” said John Croteau, president and CEO, MACOM. “To date, MACOM has refined and proven the merits of GaN on silicon using rather modest compound semiconductor factories, replicating and even exceeding the RF performance and reliability of expensive GaN-on-SiC alternative technology. We expect this collaboration with ST to bring those GaN innovations to bear in a silicon supply chain that can ultimately service the most demanding customers and applications.”

“ST’s scale and operational excellence in silicon wafer manufacturing aims to unlock the potential to drive new RF power applications for MACOM and ST as it delivers the economic breakthroughs necessary to expand the market for GaN on silicon,” said Marco Monti, president of the Automotive and Discrete Product Group, STMicroelectronics. “While expanding the opportunities for existing RF applications is appealing, we’re even more excited about using GaN on silicon in new RF energy applications, especially in automotive applications, such as plasma ignition for more efficient combustion in conventional engines, and in RF lighting applications, for more efficient and longer-lasting lighting systems.”

“Once the $0.04/W barrier for high-power RF semiconductor devices is crossed, significant opportunities for the RF energy market may open up,” said Eric Higham, director of Advanced Semiconductor Applications Service at Strategy Analytics. “Potential RF energy device shipments could be in the hundreds of millions for applications including commercial microwave cooking, automotive lighting and ignition, and plasma lighting, with sales reaching into the billions of dollars.”

ST and MACOM have been working together for several years to bring GaN-on-silicon production up in ST’s CMOS wafer fab. As currently scheduled, sample production from ST is expected to begin in 2018.

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