Soitec’s EpiGaN Acquisition Expands GaN Substrate Portfolio

May 13, 2019 by Scott McMahan

Soitec announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire EpiGaN, a European supplier of GaN epitaxial wafer materials. The acquisition will be for €30M in cash, plus an additional earn-out payment based on completion of certain milestones.

EpiGaN's GaN products are used primarily within power electronics, RF 5G, and sensor applications. EpiGaN fabricates GaN-on-Si and GaN-on-SiC epitaxial wafer materials and supplies these materials to integrated device manufacturers for high-performance power and RF devices.

According to EpiGaN, GaN-based systems deliver higher power efficiency, thereby reducing power losses. They also switch at higher frequency, thus reducing weight and size. GaN technology is used in high power applications such as industrial, consumer and server power supplies, ac drive and UPS inverters, solar, as well as hybrid and electric cars. Moreover, GaN offers high breakdown strength, low noise figure, and high linearity, making it well suited for RF applications including radar, cellular base stations, and cable TV infrastructure in the networking, aerospace and defense sectors.

"GaN technology is gaining significant traction in RF and power markets. GaN epi-wafers represent a natural strategic fit with Soitec's current portfolio of engineered substrates," said Soitec CEO Paul Boudre. "The acquisition of EpiGaN further extends and complements Soitec's portfolio beyond silicon to create new value-added process solutions for both RF 5G and power systems."

In the mobility space, designers need to co-optimize performance, low power, and cost. Soitec says that the coming of 5G sub 6GHz and mmW is driving new generations of base stations, compared with 4G. Such base stations demand more energy-efficient, higher performing, smaller, and more affordable power amplifiers.

Soitec plans to expand its engineered substrates offering for PA with GaN for smaller, lighter, more efficient and cost-effective base station designs.

"Widely recognized for its strong expertise in GaN for several years, EpiGaN has developed a technology which is ready and optimized for 5G broadband network applications," said EpiGaN co-founder and CEO Dr. Marianne Germain. "Our technology creates the unique opportunity for Soitec's customers to develop quickly product solutions targeting new high-growth markets, such as RF devices, efficient power switching devices and sensor devices."

"The GaN technology developed by EpiGaN opens up many future opportunities and we believe Soitec is an excellent partner to further develop the full potential of EpiGaN," said Katleen Vandersmissen, director of EpiGaN and representative of cornerstone investor Investment Company of Limburg (LRM).

In addition to adding GaN products, Soitec says that EpiGaN acquisition also creates new complementary growth opportunities across its existing Power-SOI products given GaN's use in power transistor designs.

Soitec says that both power-SOI and GaN can address the integration of high-voltage and analog functions in highly reliable, energy efficient, and intelligent power IC devices, for use in automotive, industrial, consumer electronics, and data center applications.

EpiGaN will be integrated as one of Soitec's business units.