STMicroelectronics Announces First SiC Wafer Manufacturing
🟩Improving SiC Production Capacity
SiC (silicon carbide) 200mm wafers can be used to produce chips with almost twice the area compared to 150mm wafers, and can produce 1.8x~1.9 times as good quality chips. Contributing to the miniaturization, weight, efficiency, and cost reduction of power electronics will enable us to meet the growing demand in the automotive and industrial sectors, which have a high need.
Features of SiC
SiC (silicon carbide) is a compound semiconductor material that exhibits performance and efficiency exceeding that of Si (silicon). SiC power semiconductors have a feature that can reduce energy loss during both current conduction and switching.
🟩Flow to SiC Devices
Demand for EVs
Due to the increased cruising range of EVs, SiC power semiconductors have been the focus of the power electronics industry. Currently, STMicro is mass-producing SiC power semiconductors to Tesla EVs and has a long-term supply contract to ensure stable procurement of SiC wafers. However, since the price difference with silicon is large, there is a trend for EVs to adopt SiC from flagship models.
In-house wafer development
STMicroelectronics manufactured 200mm SiC wafers using the know-how of Norstel SiC wafer manufacturer Norsöpin (Sweden), which it acquired in 2019. The transition to 200mm SiC wafers requires not only meeting quality challenges but also improving the overall performance of the manufacturing equipment and the manufacturing support ecosystem, and ST is taking the lead in promoting it.
ST’s 200mm SiC wafers are of high quality and minimize defects due to yield and crystal dislocations. In general, it was said that SiC was not suitable for mass production because the quality of wafers did not match that of silicon. As quality improves and the shift to 200mm wafers improves, production capacity will increase and spread will gain momentum.
ST aims to increase production volume and reduce costs by increasing the diameter of SiC wafers
Although the risk is high because it requires a large amount of capital investment to increase the diameter of wafers, it is expected that there will be an overwhelming difference in cost competitiveness in five or ten years’ time. I hope that the Japan will also make investments with a sense of urgency and uphold the position of power semiconductors, which is their home art.