1 December 2022
ST to qualify Soitec’s silicon carbide substrate technology over next 18 months
STMicroelectronics of Geneva, Switzerland and engineered substrate manufacturer Soitec of Bernin, near Grenoble, France have announced the next stage of their cooperation on silicon carbide (SiC) substrates, with the qualification of Soitec’s SiC substrate technology by ST planned over the next 18 months. The goal is the adoption by ST of Soitec’s SmartSiC technology for its future 200mm substrate manufacturing, feeding its devices and modules manufacturing business, with volume production expected in the midterm.
SmartSiC is a proprietary Soitec technology that uses Soitec’s proprietary SmartCut technology to split a thin layer of a high-quality SiC donor wafer and bond it on top of a low-resistivity handle polySiC wafer. The engineered substrate then improves device performance and manufacturing yields. The prime-quality SiC donor wafer can be reused multiple times, significantly reducing the overall energy consumption required to produce it.
Compared with silicon, silicon carbide’s intrinsic properties provide superior performance and efficiency, allowing more efficient power conversion, lighter and more compact designs, and overall system-design cost savings – all key parameters and factors in high-growth power applications such as electric mobility and industrial processes. Transitioning from 150mm to 200mm wafers will enable a substantial capacity increase, with almost twice the useful area for manufacturing integrated circuits, delivering 1.8–1.9 times as many working chips per wafer.
“The transition to 200mm SiC wafers will bring substantial advantages to our automotive and industrial customers as they accelerate the transition toward electrification of their systems and products. It is important in driving economies of scale as product volumes ramp,” says Marco Monti, president Automotive and Discrete Group, STMicroelectronics. “We have chosen a vertically integrated model to maximize our know-how across the full manufacturing chain, from high-quality substrates to large-scale front- and back-end production. The goal of the technology cooperation with Soitec is to continue to improve our manufacturing yields and quality,” he adds.
“The automotive industry is facing major disruption with the advent of electric vehicles. Our cutting-edge SmartSiC technology, which adapts our unique SmartCut process to silicon carbide semiconductors, will play a key role in accelerating their adoption,” believes Soitec’s chief operating officer Bernard Aspar. “The combination of Soitec’s SmartSiC substrates with STMicroelectronics’ industry-leading silicon carbide technology and expertise is a game-changer for automotive chip manufacturing that will set new standards.”