Infineon-led “eRamp” to Strengthen European Power Electronics Manufacturing

April 01, 2014 by Jeff Shepard

What is expected to be one of the most important European research projects focused on energy efficiency was launched yesterday at Infineon Technologies AG in Dresden. The objective of the three-year project "eRamp" is to strengthen and expand Germany and Europe as centers of expertise for the manufacture of power electronics. Twenty-six research partners from six countries are participating. Infineon is leading the €55 million project.

The research partners in the eRamp project are (in alphabetical order): AMS AG (Unterpremstatten, Austria), CISC Semiconductor GmbH (Klagenfurt, Austria), HSEB Dresden GmbH (Dresden, Germany), Infineon Technologies (Germany: Dresden, Regensburg, Munich; Villach, Austria and Bucharest, Romania), JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft GmbH (Graz, Austria), Lantiq (Villach, Austria), Materials Center Leoben Forschung GmbH (Leoben, Austria), NXP Semiconductors (Gratkorn, Austria and Eindhoven, Netherlands), Osram GmbH (Munich), Polymer Competence Center Leoben GmbH (Leoben, Austria), Robert Bosch GmbH (Stuttgart, Germany), SGS INSTITUT FRESENIUS (Taunusstein, Germany), Siemens AG (Berlin, Munich), SPTS Technologies Ltd. (Newport, UK), Stichting IMEC Nederland (Eindhoven, Netherlands), SYSTEMA Systementwicklung Dipl.-Inf. Manfred Austen GmbH (Dresden), Slovak University of Technology (Bratislava, Slovakia), Technical University Vienna and University of Innsbruck (both in Austria) as well as Technical University Dresden and the West Saxon University of Applied Sciences, Zwickau (Germany). The Project eRamp is co-funded by grants from ENIAC Joint Undertaking and from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia und the UK.

The project partners joined policymakers and representatives from the project’s sponsors at the two-day eRamp kickoff event (yesterday and today). Dr. Reinhard Ploss CEO of Infineon Technologies AG, opened the event by meeting with Sabine von Schorlemer, Saxon State Minister for Higher Education, Research and the Fine Arts; Prof. Wolf-Dieter Lukas, department head at the BMBF (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research), the largest national sponsor; and with Dr. Andreas Wild, Executive Director of ENIAC Joint Undertaking, the funding provider of the European Union.

”The research results from eRamp will be an important contribution to even more efficiently use energy,” said Dr. Reinhard Ploss, CEO of Infineon Technologies AG. ”Europe and Germany are distinguished by their characteristic knowledge and expertise. The partners in the eRamp project have the entire power electronics value creation chain in mind, from generation and transmission all the way to consumption of electric energy. Together we will create new knowledge and thus new products that will mean economic and ecological progress for Europe.”

BMBF department head Prof. Wolf-Dieter Lukas added: ”Power electronics is a key technology and a determining factor in the competitive ability of fundamental industry sectors in Germany and Europe. The cooperative approach of the European Commission and the German federal government in funding eRamp is a clear example of the benefits of joint action in Europe.”

”The eRamp project, led by Infineon Technologies Dresden, brings the European industry for power electronics components to the forefront of innovation, with considerable impact on important areas of industry and everyday life, such as energy efficiency, electromobility, medicine and many more,” said Dr. Andreas Wild, Executive Director of ENIAC Joint Undertaking.

”When examined closely, most of the innovations with which German companies have succeeded in the world market are ultimately innovations in electronics and/or software. This applies to the automotive industry, mechanical engineering, medical technology and environmental technologies. Therefore we must not let ourselves become dependent on non-European manufacturers in microelectronics,” observed Sabine von Schorlemer, Saxon State Minister for Higher Education, Research and the Fine Arts, also responsible for technology policy issues.

eRamp research activities will focus on the rapid introduction of new production technologies and further exploration of chip packaging technologies for power semiconductors. The German project partners will investigate and develop new methods for speeding up the start of the production run.

In order to investigate research results for practical viability exactly where the new production technologies will be implemented, the German research partners will use existing pilot lines and comprehensive production expertise at various German sites, including Dresden (Infineon: power semiconductors based on 300mm wafers), Reutlingen (Bosch: power semiconductors, smart power and sensors based on 200mm wafers) and Regensburg (Infineon: chip packaging technologies for power semiconductors). Infineon, Osram and Siemens will work together closely to research and construct testing equipment and demonstrators for the evaluation of newly developed chip embedding technologies.

In Germany, the Technical University of Dresden and West Saxon University of Applied Sciences Zwickau are also participating in research. In addition to Bosch, Infineon, Osram and Siemens, German business is represented by the companies SYSTEMA Dresden, an IT specialist vendor for automation in the manufacturing industry, HSEB Dresden, provider of optical inspection, review and installation, and SGS INSTITUT FRESENIUS, a leading vendor of chemical and physical laboratory analysis.

Power electronics includes electronic components and the chips built into them, so-called power semiconductors. Power semiconductors help keep the loss of electrical energy as low as possible. They make sure that the greatest possible amount of energy generated by wind or the sun is fed into the power grid and transmitted almost completely without loss over many thousands of kilometers from the generation site to the consumer. They then also help minimize power consumption in a wide variety of applications, e.g. in household appliances, illumination technologies, servers and computers, in hybrid and electric drive systems for cars, commercial vehicles, construction and agricultural machines as well as in industrial energy technologies and production facilities.