FREE subscription
Subscribe for free to receive each issue of Semiconductor Today magazine and weekly news brief.


29 September 2008


SiC wafer maker Caracal re-starts after bankruptcy

Last month, the assets of Caracal Inc, which manufactures silicon carbide (SiC) substrates and epiwafers, were purchased by a multinational consortium with the intention of resuming the firm’s operations at its base in the Heritage and Technology Industrial Park of Ford City, PA, USA.

Caracal filed for voluntary operational chapter 7 bankruptcy protection from creditors in April after losing its $1.2m-a-year US Navy research grant. However, the firm says that its entire estate has remained fully intact. The purchasing consortium is described as having a strong and stable financial background, as well as traditionally a long-term perspective on its investments. “We have kept an eye on the wide-bandgap semiconductor market and see potential for strong growth year over year, particularly in the power device market,” says a member of the consortium. “We are developing a long-term plan for the new enterprise, with particular emphasis on cutting-edge R&D, cost-efficient manufacturing methods, and establishing efficient business functions.”

Caracal was co-founded in 2003 by Olle Kordina from the SiC Materials Science center of Sweden’s Linköping University and entrepreneur Rajiv Enand. The firm says that it will continue developing its proprietary and patented gas-based crystal growth process and chlorinated epitaxial process, which can grow epitaxial layers of high quality at very high growth rates (more than 100µm/hr, compared to 5–10µm/hr for conventional chemistry), the firm claims. “We can today also grow very high-quality films on on-axis wafers which eliminate the problem of basal plane dislocations that harm bipolar devices,” says Stefano Leone from Linköping University , lead scientist responsible for the development of the epitaxial process.

At the European Conference on Silicon Carbide and Related Materials (ECSCRM 2008) in Barcelona, Spain in early September, Leone presented results on epitaxial growth on on-axis substrates (winning the prize for the best student poster on material growth).

Caracal will also continue to develop its grinding and slicing processes. The firm claims that its unique setup allows it to process very large-diameter crystals with high speed and precision. “We have provided slicing and grinding services for a number of customers," says a spokesperson for Caracal. "There is a need for these services, as so much focus must be spent on growing the crystals, leaving little resources for grinding and slicing the grown material. We have processed a number of different wide-bandgap materials other than SiC, including sapphire, gallium nitride, and aluminum nitride.”

See related item:

Compound semiconductor substrate market to top $1bn by 2009-2010

Search: Caracal SiC substrates SiC epiwafers GaN AlN Sapphire