15 July 2022
Soitec boosting SmartSiC wafer manufacturing yield using KLA Surfscan SP A2 unpatterned inspection system
Engineered substrate manufacturer Soitec of Bernin, near Grenoble, France has selected process control and inspection systems provider KLA Corp of Milpitas, CA, USA to enable high-yield manufacturing of silicon carbide (SiC) devices for the automotive industry.
Soitec leverages its patented SmartSiC technology to produce SiC substrates, which aim to improve the performance of power electronics devices and boost the energy efficiency of electric vehicles (EVs).
Based on its track record of using KLA’s inspectors for its silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers, Soitec has extended its partnership with KLA and selected the Surfscan SP A2 unpatterned inspection system for its SmartSiC wafers.
SmartSiC wafers provide what is claimed to be unique crystal quality, while KLA’s Surfscan SP A2 leverages deep-ultraviolet (DUV) optics and advanced algorithms to support substrate quality control. This partnership should enable SiC substrate production at more sophisticated levels, helping to bring high-quality SiC in high volume to the automotive market.
In March, Soitec announced the construction of a new fab, Bernin 4, dedicated primarily to the manufacturing of SmartSiC wafers in 150mm and 200mm diameters. The new fab is expected to be operational by second-half 2023.
“Coupling our unique SmartSiC engineered substrates with KLA’s inspection and metrology systems will help us to assure supreme quality levels in the manufacturing of substrates and thus drive customer yield downstream,” says Soitec’s chief technology officer Christophe Maleville. “With KLA, we have demonstrated the great potential of their inspection system for our all-important SOI technology. We now apply it to our innovative SmartSiC technology for the automotive sector. This will help us to drive our manufacturing efficiency, satisfy the growing demand from the electric vehicle market, and offer further added value to our customers,” he adds.
“At KLA we strongly value our customer relationships and R&D investment as they provide us with the knowledge and technologies needed to deliver the required process control solutions at the right time,” says Jijen Vazhaeparambil, senior VP of the Surfscan, ADE and ECI group. “Through our close collaboration with Soitec, we were able to adapt our world-class Surfscan inspection technology for the wide-bandgap substrate segment. The resulting Surfscan SP A2 system provides the sensitivity and production capability needed to help Soitec achieve their stringent quality standards for SiC and other wide-bandgap substrates.”