Odyssey Semi Completes Strategic Acquisition of High-Voltage GaN Wafer Fab

October 23, 2019 by Paul Shepard

Odyssey Semiconductor Technologies, Inc., a semiconductor device company developing innovative high-voltage power switching components and systems based on proprietary gallium nitride (GaN) processing technology, announced the acquisition of an integrated semiconductor design, fabrication, test, and packaging facility as well as associated tooling. Odyssey is developing disruptive proprietary technology that will allow GaN to replace silicon carbide (SiC) as the leading high voltage power switching semiconductor material.

According to Odyssey, its GaN devices will have the same current-handling capability, breakdown voltage and on-resistance as SiC devices, but will take up to 10-times less wafer area. Since GaN switches allow for switching speeds ~10X greater than SiC switches, GaN-based power converters are considerably smaller than SiC-based systems: ~1/4 the volume and weight. The company expects these systems will not only be smaller and lighter, but importantly, cheaper to produce as the cost of passive components roughly scales with size and weight as well.

Located in Ithaca, NY, the 10,000 sq. ft. facility is complete with a mix of class 1,000 and class 10,000 clean space as well as tools for advanced semiconductor development and production. It is well-suited for compound semiconductor device development and small-scale production with a wafer capacity exceeding 10,000 wafers/year.

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Advanced lithography capabilities include i-line steppers adapted for handling small pieces up through 200 mm diameter wafers. High-throughput metal and dielectric deposition equipment, advanced etch and packaging tools will allow Odyssey to accelerate the development of its proprietary over 1,000V GaN power-switching transistor technology. The facility will also expand Odyssey's existing semiconductor device development and foundry service.

To date, Odyssey has been developing its proprietary vertical-conduction GaN transistor technology at various user-facility labs. With the acquisition of this facility, the Company can significantly accelerate the development of its disruptive GaN power-switching transistor products operating above 1,000V.

Commenting on the announcement, Odyssey co-founder and CEO, Dr. Rick Brown, stated, "This acquisition dramatically improves our ability to design and manufacture our proprietary disruptive GaN-based high voltage switching power conversion devices and systems and should accelerate our timeline into prototype and commercial production."

Odyssey is currently developing its innovative and disruptive technology to produce GaN-based high voltage switching power conversion devices and systems that may quickly supplant SiC as the dominant premium power switching device material.

GaN-based systems outperform silicon (Si) and SiC based systems due to the superior material properties of GaN. To date, processing challenges have limited GaN devices to operating voltages below 1,000V. Odyssey has developed a novel technique that will allow GaN to be processed in a manner that, for the first time, will make production of high voltage GaN power switching devices operating above 1,000V viable.

The premium power switching device market - which is described as applications where Si systems perform insufficiently - is projected to reach over $3.5B by 2025 and is currently dominated by the semiconductor material SiC. This growth is largely driven by the rapid adoption of electric vehicles (EV) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and the growing number of installations of renewables such as solar and wind power as well as increased demand for more efficient industrial motor drives.