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5 March 2007


TranSiC, KTH and Acreo share €1.3m in Swedish funding to develop SiC power modules

The Swedish government is providing €1.3m in funding for a new three-year collaborative project between Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Kista, spin-off TranSiC AB, which makes silicon carbide-based power bipolar junction transistors (BJTs), and microelectronics and optics research institute Acreo (also of Kista), with the aim of developing new power modules.

Support is to be provided by VINNOVA (the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems) and Energimyndigheten (the Swedish Energy Agency), which previously gave initial support to TranSiC when the company was spun off from KTH in 2005 by professor Mikael Östling, Martin Domeij and Bo Hammarlund.

“Our support for SiC components is a logical step from our earlier financial contributions in the area of manufacturing of silicon carbide material,” says Svante Söderholm, project manager at the Swedish Energy Agency which, together with VINNOVA, previously provided €6m in Swedish government funding over three years to Norstel AB of Norrköping, Sweden (which spun off from Finnish silicon wafer maker Okmetic Oyj in 2005).

Via development and device fabrication performed in the Electrum Laboratory in Kista (where a 4” wafer line suited to SiC device technology is available), TranSiC was the first company to offer SiC power transistors on the market, it is claimed. The firm says that its BitSiC (bipolar power transistor in silicon carbide) components have very low switching losses, high breakdown voltages and can handle high currents.

TranSiC made available engineering samples of its first product in Q2/2006 (the BiTSiC 1206 for applications at Vmax = 1200V, 2A and operating junction temperatures of up to 175°C). The goal is to have a 30A prototype device by the end of 2007, plus a packaged prototype able to handle 225°C.

Applications include compact motor control (exceeding 1kW), e.g. in next-generation hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs), where high temperatures are normally a great problem for current silicon transistors. The project also has a very strong bond to the Swedish automotive industry, says TranSiC, as well as to the Lund Institute of Technology and Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg. Last November TranSiC raised €0.44m ($0.6m) in first-round venture funding led by Volvo Technology Transfer Corp. “For the automotive industry, managing power electronics is an increasing challenge. TranSiC’s products increase design flexibility and efficiency of hybrid drivelines,” said VTT’s investment director Johan M Carlsson at the time.

Much of the funding will be spent on developing SiC epitaxy, packaging, discretes and modules, improved structures for higher breakdown voltages, and higher current operation. CEO Bo Hammarlund says the support will make a big difference to TranSiC in promoting its products to customers in Europé, USA and Japan, for whom the development of packaging technology for high-temperature applications is key.