STMicroelectronics Begins Producing 200mm Silicon Carbide Wafers
The effort marks ST’s commitment to the high power, high voltage requirements of the automotive and industrial markets.
ST has announced that it has begun manufacturing 200mm Silicon-Carbide (SiC) wafers at its Norrköping, Sweden facility. Manufacturers have long employed 200mm and larger wafers in the production of CMOS chips, but ST is reportedly the first to extend the technology to silicon carbide fabrication. They won’t be the last, because transitioning from today’s 150mm wafers to a 200mm size will enable the delivery of almost twice as many chips from each wafer.
Image courtesy of ST
The advantages of silicon carbide over classical silicon devices are increasingly apparent to power engineers. These benefits include higher voltage and power capabilities, lower on-state resistance, higher switching speeds, smaller size, and better heat conductivity.
ST views its adaptation of 200mm SiC wafers as an important milestone in its effort to boost its capacity to produce the SiC power devices demanded in ever greater numbers by its hungry automotive and industrial customers.
Among the First in the World
Although they are among the first in the world, ST’s initial run of 200mm SiC wafers is of high quality, with minimal yield-impacting crystal-dislocation defects. The low defectivity has been achieved by long-standing expertise and commitment to SiC ingot growth technology. ST enjoyed an additional leg-up here through its 2019 acquisition of Silicon Carbide A.B. (formerly Norstel A.B.)
Many of the mechanisms employed in producing 200mm silicon wafers translate readily to the task of SiC fabrication, but others don’t. New manufacturing methods and equipment technology is called for, as is coordination with both ST’s supply chain and with its customers. The result of this collaboration will be ST’s ongoing development of its own unique 200mm SiC manufacturing equipment and processes.
ST’s Current Production of 150mm SiC Wafers
ST is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of SiC power semiconductors. It produces is popular STPower SiC products on 150mm wafer lines at fabs in Catania, Italy, and in Ang Mo Kio, Singapore. Assembly and test take place at back-end sites located in Bouskoura, Morocco, and in Shenzhen, China.
ST’s Game Plan for the Future
ST’s move to begin production of 200mm SiC wafers in its Norrköping plant is a part of its over plan to move on to more sophisticated and efficient high volume 200mm SiC production. This important transition is taking place in conjunction with the company’s intention to build its own SiC substrate plant. The expectation is for ST to be able to source 40% or more of its SiC substrates internally by 2024.
According to Marco Monti, the President of ST’s Automotive and Discrete Group, STMicroelectronics, “The transition to 200mm SiC wafers will bring substantial advantages to our automotive and industrial customers as they accelerate the transition towards electrification of their systems and products”. He goes on to state that “It is important in driving economies of scale as product volumes ramp. Building robust know-how in our internal SiC ecosystem across the full manufacturing chain, from high-quality SiC substrates to large-scale front- and back-end production boosts our flexibility and allows us to better control the improvement of yield and quality of the wafers.”
- Cree-Wolfspeed’s 200 mm silicon-carbide wafer fab in NY’s Mohawk Valley is scheduled to go online in 2022. 200mm
- ROHM, too, is reported to be developing its own plant devoted to 200mm SiC Wafers