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Press release | Focus
Geneva, Switzerland, and Grenoble, France – September 24, 2018 – STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), a global semiconductor leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications, and Leti, a research institute of CEA Tech, today announced their cooperation to industrialize GaN (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 on-board chargers for hybrid and electric vehicles, wireless charging, and servers.
The collaboration focuses on developing and qualifying advanced power GaN-on-Silicon diode and transistor architectures on 200mm wafers, a market that the research firm IHS Markit estimates to grow at a CAGR of more than 20 percent from 2019 to 2024. Together, in the framework of IRT Nanoelec, ST and Leti are developing the process technology on Leti's 200mm 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.
"Recognizing 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 200mm 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. 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," said Leti CEO Emmanuel Sabonnadiere.
Note to editors:
As a wide-bandgap semiconductor material, GaN devices inherently allow operation at much higher voltages, frequencies, and temperatures than conventional semiconductor materials like silicon. ST is also working on two other wide-bandgap technologies: silicon carbide (SiC) and RF Gallium Nitride (GaN)
In GaN, in addition to this announcement with CEA-Leti, ST recently announced another development of GaN-on-Silicon for RF applications with MACOM, 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. These include the suitability of the Power GaN-on-Si technology to be produced on 200mm wafers, while the RF GaN-on-Silicon is – for now, at least – better suited for 150mm wafers. Either way, because they produce low switching losses, GaN technologies suit higher frequency applications.
SiC devices, on the other hand, operate at higher voltages with a blocking voltage of more than 1700V, an avalanche rating over 1800V, and low on-resistance making it ideal for energy efficiency and thermal performance. With these characteristics, SiC is an excellent fit in applications like electric vehicles, solar inverters, and welding equipment.
 IHS Markit, April 2018.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.