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CEA sells its stake in Exagan

CEA has announced that CEA Investissement, its strategic investment fund, is selling its stake in Exagan, a major innovator in gallium-nitride semiconductor technology, to STMicroelectronics, a global leader in the field of semiconductors, delivering to customers across the full spectrum of electronics applications.

Published on 31 March 2020

Exagan is a Soitec and CEA-Leti spin-off specializing in the design of advanced power- electronics devices using gallium nitride (GaN) on 200mm silicon wafers. In 2019, it achieved excellent performance with the delivery of its first samples to customers.

For more than 20 years, scientists have explored the electronic characteristics of GaN and its potential for enabling the manufacture of a new class of power-electronics components designed to accelerate energy transition by doubling energy-conversion efficiency to 4 percent. GaN also enables production of more compact solutions for power modules, optimizes cooling systems for the automotive industry and reduces system costs. GaN-based components have many applications, including battery chargers, industrial power converters, a wide range of motor-control systems and, in the near future, electric and hybrid vehicles.

Exagan was launched in 2014. Building on CEA-Leti's expertise in design, product development and epitaxy as well as access to CEA's industrial test platforms in Toulouse, France, the company overcame a number of technological challenges and positioned itself as a leader in the emerging GaN market. Based in the heart of the CEA's ecosystems in Grenoble and Toulouse, the start-up developed links with tech partners and an industrial logistics chain for GaN chip production. These steps enabled the company to expand its expertise in Gan-based power device manufacturing and GaN-on-silicon epitaxy.

STMicroelectronics' acquisition of a majority stake in Exagan will be a major boost to the bleeding-edge technology sector of GaN-based power electronics, which is set to play a key role in energy transition. Reflecting its policy on promoting start-ups and its development of partnerships with industry, this transaction demonstrates CEA's role in and capacities for engaging in the renewal of French industry by providing key technology to underpin the type of development needed for transition in the energy, digital and healthcare industries of the future.

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