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Wolfspeed Expands SiC Wafer Supply Partnerships for E-Mobility and Energy Storage

February 25, 2024 by Mike Falter

Wolfspeed has expanded agreements with Infineon and another leading global semiconductor manufacturer to supply 150 mm silicon carbide (SiC) wafers for emerging e-mobility, energy storage, and other high-power density applications.

Wolfspeed has expanded agreements with Infineon and another leading global semiconductor manufacturer to supply 150 mm silicon carbide (SiC) wafers for emerging e-mobility, energy storage, and other high-power density applications.

Wolfspeed is extending its long-standing supply agreement with Infineon for its 150 mm silicon carbide (SiC) wafers. Originally signed in early 2018, the extended deal includes multi-year capacity reservations allowing Infineon to lock in access to the SiC wafer supplies essential to the company’s growth plans for electric vehicles (EVs), renewable energy, and other markets that demand high power density solutions.

 

Infineon silicon carbide power fab in Kulim, Malaysia.

Infineon silicon carbide power fab in Kulim, Malaysia. Image used courtesy of Infineon

 

In a separate deal, Wolfspeed will also expand an existing SiC supply agreement with another leading global semiconductor company, bringing the total value of that deal to $275 million. Per the agreement, Wolfspeed will supply the company with 150 mm SiC bare and epitaxial wafers. 

Together, the agreements signal continued strong demand for the high-performance and high-voltage compound semiconductor material heading into 2024.

 

Wolfspeed and Silicon Carbide Materials

Formerly known as Cree, Wolfspeed is based in Durham, North Carolina. At the end of the last decade, the company conducted a massive transformation of its business. The move resulted in the divestiture of two-thirds of its business and a re-focusing of its core strategy as a leading supplier of silicon carbide technology.

The bet has paid off as global demand for SiC materials has rapidly expanded in recent years, driven by the adoption of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, an increased focus on renewable energy sources, and expanded electrification of the global economy.

According to Wolfspeed President and CEO Gregg Lowe, the market for silicon carbide devices is forecast to grow significantly through 2030 to $20 billion per year. 

In September 2022, Wolfspeed announced the selection of North Carolina as the location of a state-of-the-art silicon carbide manufacturing facility. The facility is projected to increase the company’s SiC material production 10-fold over the current capacity of its Durham campus. Production at the facility will focus on the larger 200 mm wafers that can yield more chips per wafer at a lower per-unit device cost.

 

Wolfspeed SiC material product portfolio.

Wolfspeed SiC material product portfolio. Image used courtesy of Wolfspeed
 

As part of its product portfolio, Wolfspeed offers a broad range of SiC materials, including n-type conductive products with a variety of epitaxy options. 

 

 Securing the Silicon Carbide Supply Chain

Infineon’s CoolSiC MOSFET devices and power modules are constructed from silicon carbide and are targeted for power-dense renewable inverters, energy storage, EV motor/charging, and similar applications. Silicon carbide is particularly attractive for power-dense applications due to its high voltage withstands, efficiency, and reliability at high temperatures. These features enable lighter and more compact power system designs without sacrificing power capacity.

 

CoolSiC devices for inverter applications.

CoolSiC devices for inverter applications. Image used courtesy of Infineon

 

According to Infineon CEO Jochen Hanebeck, his company has been working with Wolfspeed to deliver SiC solutions to the automotive, industrial, and energy markets for more than 20 years. The expanded agreement with Wolfspeed is part of Infineon’s multi-source strategy to secure its long-term global supply of 150 mm and 200 mm SiC wafers.
 

Silicon vs. Silicon Carbide

Silicon carbide devices have much to offer and bring many capabilities to power system design. They are particularly well suited to power-dense, mobile applications like EVs and have largely enabled the recent growth of the electric and hybrid-electric vehicle market.

However, SiC remains a newer technology with its own set of challenges, risks, and costs. For many power applications, particularly those not needing the highest power density and performance, silicon will remain the preferred solution for the foreseeable future.