Monolith Partners with X-FAB to offer SiC Power Devices by 2015

June 02, 2014 by Jeff Shepard

Monolith Semiconductor Inc.has formed a strategic partnership with silicon-based analog/mixed-signal foundry X-FAB Texas Inc. to manufacture 150mm SiC wafers in a high-volume production line. Currently, the high cost of SiC devices has limited the widespread adoption of SiC power diodes and MOSFETs, Monolith said in a statement. The partnership aims to dramatically lower the cost, improve reliability and expand availability of SiC diodes and MOSFETs, enabling their widespread adoption in high-performance and high-efficiency power electronics systems. Monolith aims to offer 900-1700V SiC diodes and MOSFETs and is preparing for SiC power device sampling in early 2015.

“Monolith’s revolutionary SiC MOSFET design and silicon-compatible processes enable manufacturing of high‐performance and highly reliable SiC MOSFETs in a cost‐effective CMOS fab,” says the firm’s CEO Sujit Banerjee. “X-FAB Texas has a long history of delivering high-quality semiconductor products to automotive and industrial customers,” he comments. “We have already transitioned Monolith’s SiC technology into X-FAB’s CMOS fab and have demonstrated 1200V SiC devices manufactured on 150mm SiC wafers.“

Monolith’s development of SiC devices is partially supported by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) SWITCHES program (‘Strategies for Wide-Bandgap, Inexpensive Transistors for Controlling High-Efficiency Systems’). “By using existing silicon manufacturing infrastructure, we dramatically reduce the overhead costs to manufacture Monolith’s SiC devices, and we reap the advantage of the high‐yield manufacturing systems at X-FAB,” notes Monolith’s president Kevin Matocha. “The aggressive cost goal of the ARPA-E SWITCHES program has driven us to find new ways to dramatically reduce the production cost of SiC power MOSFETs,” he adds.

“The SWITCHES program is designed to develop new wide-bandgap semiconductor devices promising increased switching frequency, enhanced high-temperature operation, and reduced power losses at substantially lower cost relative to today's solutions,” comments SWITCHES program director Tim Heidel. “With SWITCHES just over six months under way, we are excited to see our project teams already beginning to show positive signs toward reaching their technical and market goals.”

“We are excited to be part of the institute which will further improve the manufacturability and cost of SiC power devices,” comments Andy Wilson, X-FAB’s director of strategic marketing. “With X-FAB’s high-quality TS-16949 manufacturing capability, we are poised to support SiC power device manufacturing for Monolith Semiconductor,” he adds. “We are fabricating SiC power devices using our existing 150mm silicon production facility, and this will break the primary cost barriers and allow proliferation of SiC power devices.”