Sweden-based Norstel AB is to
supply silicon carbide (SiC) epitaxial wafers to British
company Anvil Semiconductors Ltd for the fabrication of
vertical power devices.
Norstel will provide single-crystal
epitaxial layers and n-type conductive and semi-insulating SiC
substrates to Anvil, which has manufacturing facilities in
Cambridge and Coventry, UK.
It will also assist Anvil with the
characterisation and polishing of semiconductors for use in
power and high-frequency electronics.
Anvil is currently developing
vertical Schottky barrier diodes and metal-oxide semiconductor
field-effect transistors (MOSFETs), based on 3C-SiC layers
deposited on silicon wafers with applications in power devices,
LEDs, medical devices and microelectromechanical systems
Our proven high-quality
production expertise and capabilities in SiC epitaxy have
helped Anvil to demonstrate the viability of their 3C-SiC
solution, Norstels chief commercial officer, Ronald
capacity will pave the way for Anvils volume
production, he added.
Jill Shaw, Anvils CEO, said
that Norstels SiC wafers will pave the way for the use of
multi-wafer reactors at Anvil.
The company will use 150mm diameter
wafers for its 3C-SiC solution, which will enable it to
manufacture both 650V and 1200V electronic devices.
Power electronics to drive
Although silicon is still the major
material used in electric power transmission devices, SiC is
becoming an increasingly popular material in the semiconductor
industry, owing to its potential to improve high-voltage
According to the China
Semiconductor Association (CSA), SiC-based power devices can
have a voltage as high as 200,000V, compared to the 6,000V
power typical of silicon-based power devices.
The CSA said that smart grid
construction in China will require power devices with voltages
higher than 10,000V, which will move the domestic power
electricity industry towards the use of SiC.
China is also developing
photovoltaic (PV) panels to exploit renewable solar energy,
targeting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10GW new
solar capacity to 2015.
The solar market consumes silicon
carbide (SiC) for wafer slicing, fused silica for crucibles,
and high-purity quartz and soda ash for the manufacture of the
General Electric to develop SiC chips
In July, New York State governor
Andrew Cuomo and General Electrics (GE) CEO, Jeffrey
Immelt, announced a $500m project to spur the high-tech
manufacturing of miniature electronics in the US.
GE will develop low-cost SiC wafers
to be used in smaller, lighter and more powerful semiconductors
for computers and technology in solar power, health care and
New York State will invest $135m
for the collaborative project, which will be based at the SUNY
College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany, US.
SiC applications in
According to a report published by
RNR Market Research in September, the SiC-based semiconductor
market is expected to grow at a 42% CAGR to 2020.
Asia-Pacific countries will drive
the growth at a 43.5% CAGR, accounting for 36.5% of SiC-based
semiconductor market share in 2013, the report said.
Meanwhile, US-based research and
advisory firm Lux Research claims that SiC and gallium nitride
materials will replace silicon in electric vehicles (EVs) by
Lux said in a report published in
August that the use of SiC devices can save up to 5% electric
energy in plug-in EVs.
In May, Japan-based automotive
manufacturers Toyota Motors and Denso developed a SiC-based
power semiconductor for applications in automotive power
control units (PCUs).
According to the two firms, the new
semiconductor will improve hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) fuel
efficiency by 10% and reduce PCU size by 80% compared with
silicon-base conventional units.
Toyota explained that PCUs account
for about 25% of the total electric power loss in HVs, with a
20% total loss being associated with power semiconductors.
As SiC power semiconductors have
low power loss during on/off switching, they enable a more
efficient current flow in HEVs even at higher frequencies, the
In December 2013, Toyota
constructed a clean room for the production of SiC-based
semiconductors at its Hirose plant in the city of Toyota,
Toyota and Denso will begin test driving of HEVs with the
new PCUs on public roads in Japan within a year.