29 March 2023
Wolfspeed and NC A&T to establish joint silicon carbide R&D facility
At an event attended by US President Joe Biden, it was announced that Wolfspeed Inc of Durham, NC, USA – which makes silicon carbide materials as well as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) power-switching & RF semiconductor devices – and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (America’s leading historically Black college or university) are to apply for CHIPS and Science Act funding to build a new R&D facility on the North Carolina A&T campus, focused on SiC to support the next generation of compound semiconductors. Wolfspeed and A&T intend to submit the project for federal investment as part of the CHIPS and Science Act when the Notice of Funding Opportunity for R&D facilities is released this fall.
“Wolfspeed has been working with North Carolina A&T to develop a workforce of the future, and we are excited to expand that partnership to develop the technology of the future,” says Wolfspeed’s president & CEO Gregg Lowe. “The R&D facility will enable the next generation of innovators to explore new processes, applications and breakthrough advancements to support the global transition from silicon to silicon carbide technology and achieve new levels of sustainability and energy efficiency across a variety of industries.”
The R&D facility is intended to augment Wolfspeed’s establishment of the John Palmour Manufacturing Center for Silicon Carbide (the world’s largest silicon carbide crystal growth facility, currently under construction in Siler City, North Carolina). Phase-one construction is expected to be completed in 2024. Upon completion of the full build-out and combined with the firm’s ongoing materials expansion at its Durham headquarters, this will increase Wolfspeed’s material production by more than 10x and create 1800 new jobs. The facility will supply 200mm SiC wafers to Wolfspeed’s Mohawk Valley Fab in Marcy, NY (which opened in April 2022 as the world’s first 200mm SiC fabrication facility).
US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper were also in attendance at the event. “As one of the top three public research universities in North Carolina and the nation’s largest HBCU [historically black college and university], we are keenly interested in the future of the semiconductor chip industry in our state,” says NC A&T’s chancellor Harold L Martin Sr. “As a research and education partner with Wolfspeed, we bring deep academic and scientific strengths in STEM disciplines to our collaboration, as well as the fact that we produce more Black engineers than any university in the nation,” he adds. “This new facility will integrate our research and development interests toward major economic and social impact, not just in North Carolina, but globally.”
Wolfspeed has recognized A&T, one of the nation’s leading engineering institutions, as a critical component of its talent development strategy. In 2020, Wolfspeed committed $4m over five years to the HBCU (the single largest donation in the university’s history at the time) to create the Wolfspeed Endowed Scholars Program. In September 2022, the two entities announced a partnership to develop comprehensive education and training curricula, including undergraduate and graduate credentials in silicon carbide semiconductor manufacturing, as well as training and career advancement programs for existing semiconductor manufacturing workers.
To further support Wolfspeed’s growing talent needs, the company is working with several schools within North Carolina’s robust community college system to develop the skills required for its advanced manufacturing needs. This includes apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship opportunities, customized training curricula, career and college promise pathways for high-school students, and work-based learning programs.
Wolfspeed to build largest SiC materials plant in Chatham County, North Carolina
Wolfspeed opens Mohawk Valley 200mm silicon carbide fab