24 January 2012

Soitec and Sumitomo Electric demonstrate 4”- and 6” GaN engineered substrates

Soitec of Bernin, France, which makes engineered substrates including silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers (as well as III-V epiwafers through its Picogiga International division), and Tokyo-based compound semiconductor materials provider Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd have reached a milestone in their strategic joint development program started in December 2010 by demonstrating 4- and 6-inch engineered gallium nitride (GaN) substrates and launching pilot production lines to enable wider market adoption.

The substrates ─ produced by transferring ultra-thin high-quality GaN layers from a single GaN wafer to produce multiple engineered GaN substrates ─ are suited to manufacturing high-brightness light-emitting diodes for the lighting market and power-efficient controllers for the electric vehicles and energy markets.

Leveraging Sumitomo Electric’s manufacturing technology for GaN wafers and Soitec’s proven Smart Cut layer-transfer technology, the strategic alliance project had originally produced 2-inch wafers. With the demonstration of scalability of the GaN wafers, the partner companies are now proceeding with the next step to invest and establish pilot production lines in Itami, Japan and Bernin, France. The pilot lines will initially fabricate 4-inch wafers, with 6-inch wafer production quickly following to support customers demand.

Sumitomo Electric will manufacture bulk free-standing GaN substrates in Japan for shipment to France, where Soitec will apply its Smart Cut layer-transfer process to generate the final engineered wafers with the same coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) as GaN wafers. The resulting wafers have low defect density, enabling the manufacturing of semiconductor devices at lower cost than bulk GaN wafers, the firms say.

“Our partnership’s successful demonstration of 4- and 6-inch engineered GaN substrates’ scalability is a critical milestone, accomplished by applying very strong innovative capabilities from both sides,” comments Frédéric Dupont, VP of Soitec’s Specialty Electronics business unit. “The advanced substrates we are developing will allow the introduction of a new materials platform with novel and advanced functionalities,” he adds.

“With layer-transfer technology’s production readiness now proven for larger wafers, the substrates can be made even more cost effectively for large-volume production,” notes Yoshiki Miura, general manager of Sumitomo Electric’s Compound Semiconductor Materials Division. “We look forward to continuing our successful collaboration with Soitec to fulfill the requirements of the LED and energy markets.”

Tags: Soitec Sumitomo Electric GaN substrates

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