22 May 2012

Imec spin-off EpiGaN starts production at new site

In the presence of Flemish Minister Ingrid Lieten and Limburg Governor Herman Reynders, EpiGaN nv of Hasselt, Belgium has officially opened its new production site in Research Campus Hasselt (RCH) as the location for volume production of its gallium nitride (GaN) epitaxial material.

Incorporated in 2010, EpiGaN was founded by chief executive officer Dr Marianne Germain, chief technology officer Dr Joff Derluyn and chief operating officer Dr Stefan Degroote, as a spin-off of nanoelectronics research center imec in Leuven, Belgium. For more than 10 years, the founders jointly developed GaN-on-Si technology on 4” and 6” wafers at imec, part of which was licensed to EpiGaN. In July 2011 EpiGaN was joined by a consortium of investors formed by Robert Bosch Venture Capital, Capricorn CleanTech Fund and LRM, enabling installation of the new production facility.

EpiGaN says that its GaN-on-Si material will enable a new generation of power electronics (with performance beyond current silicon electronics), which will be used for more efficient energy use: efficient power convertors, better power supplies for computers, motor drivers, inverters for solar energy technologies, and greener transport with smaller environmental footprint.

EpiGaN currently offers GaN epitaxial layers deposited either on Si up to 150mm or, for specific applications, on silicon carbide (SiC). Wafer diameters of 200mm are under development. The availability of large wafers that can be processed in existing Si CMOS fabs partly explains how GaN-on-Si technology excels at combining affordability with performance, says the firm.

EpiGaN’s production unit at Research Campus Hasselt is located within the Eindhoven-Leuven-Aachen knowledge triangle, where the firm says it found the necessary framework for installing its cleanroom facilities. Also, the location in the heart of Europe allows the firm to establish its business at an international level, it reckons.

EpiGaN currently employs six people and is hiring more engineers and sales staff to support its growing production effort. Last year, EpiGaN sampled its first wafers to Europe, the USA and Asia. It is now taking a key step in ramping up capacity. “The current installation will allow us to better serve our customers and new-comers in the field of the GaN-on-Si market for electronics,” says CEO Marianne Germain. “This is right at the time that device manufacturers are looking for getting access to this new technology, key for their future applications,” she adds. This should enable EpiGaN to further expand its customer base, the firm reckons.

“IMEC has developed an innovative and state-of-the-art technology, the applications of which can lead to the solution of important challenges for society such as the energy issue and mobility,” says Ingrid Lieten, vice minister-president of the Flemish Government. “Moreover, this spin-off has a beneficial effect on the employment,” she adds.

See related items:

EpiGaN raises €4m in first-round funding to launch GaN-on-Si volume production

Tags: EpiGaN GaN-on-Si

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