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19 May 2015

X-FAB and Exagan to co-develop high-volume production of high-speed GaN-on-Si power switching devices on 200mm wafers

X-FAB Silicon Foundries AG of Erfurt, Germany and Exagan of Grenoble and Toulouse, France have entered into a joint development agreement to industrialize Exagan's GaN-on-silicon technology, begin producing high-speed power switching devices on 200mm wafers, and establish a European production center where the two partner companies will manufacture GaN devices for the solar, industrial, automotive, IT electronics and other markets.

Founded in 2014 with support from CEA-Leti and Soitec, Exagan aims to accelerate the power-electronics industry's transition from silicon-based technology to GaN-on-silicon technology, enabling smaller and more efficient electrical converters. Its GaN power switches are designed for manufacturing in standard 200mm wafer fabs to provide high-performance, high-reliability products through a robust supply chain.

Exagan and X-FAB have already begun to demonstrate their capabilities by processing the first GaN-on-Si devices built on 200mm substrates at X-FAB's wafer fab in Dresden, Germany, and are now transforming that prototype into a process robust enough for the mass-production environment.

Working with CEA-Leti in Grenoble, where some process steps are performed, X-FAB and Exagan are manufacturing the first of Exagan's G-FET 650V, fast-switching power devices on 200mm substrates using a standard silicon manufacturing line. To date, the semiconductor industry's work with GaN has been limited to 100mm and 150mm wafers due to the challenges of creating the required GaN layers on silicon substrates, says Exagan. Without the ability to use larger wafers in mass production, GaN-based semiconductors have not been available at a competitive price-performance point compared to other power-switching alternatives, it adds. The global market for GaN-based semiconductors is forecast to grow to 25-fold to $600m by 2020, according to market research firm Yole Développement.

Exagan says that its G-Stack technology enables GaN-on-Si devices to be manufactured economically on 200mm substrates by depositing a unique stack of GaN and strain management layers that alleviates the stress between bonded GaN and silicon layers. The resulting G-FET devices meet requirements for high breakdown voltage, low vertical leakage and high-temperature operation, the firm adds. These devices also allow greater power integration, which improves the efficiency and reduces the cost of electrical converters.

"Our strategic partnership with X-FAB is the latest step in establishing a robust supply chain capable of providing customers with qualified GaN devices in large volumes for demanding applications," says president & CEO Frédéric Dupont. "The industry has long acknowledged the performance and efficiency advantages of GaN devices. We are now driving GaN market penetration to the next level by providing these devices at an attractive price-performance point," he reckons.

"X-FAB's leadership position as a pure-play foundry for More-than-Moore technologies is reinforced by this new alliance and our commitment to innovative manufacturing," says X-FAB's chief technology officer Dr Jens Kosch. "We are proud to support the successful industrialization of Exagan's novel technology, which we believe will have a major impact on the future of automotive and industrial markets."

Exagan is present at the PCIM (Power Conversion Intelligent Motion) Europe 2015 trade show in Nuremberg, Germany (19-21 May) in booth #9-133.

Tags: GaN-on-Si GaN switching device on silicon

Visit: www.exagan.com

Visit: www.xfab.com

Visit: www.mesago.de/en/PCIM/main.htm

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