Soitec and Sumitomo Electric Industries have demonstrated four- and six-inch engineered gallium nitride (GaN) substrates and are launching pilot production lines as they move toward wider market adoption of GaN.
Developed as part of a joint research programme, the substrates are intended for manufacturing high-brightness light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for the lighting market and power-efficient controllers for the electric vehicles and energy markets.
“Our partnership’s successful demonstration of four- and six-inch engineered GaN substrates’ scalability is a critical milestone, accomplished by applying very strong innovative capabilities from both sides,” said Frédéric Dupont, vice president of Soitec’s Specialty Electronics Business Unit.
“The advanced substrates we are developing will allow the introduction of a new materials platform with novel and advanced functionalities,” said Dupont.
The substrates were produced by transferring ultra-thin high quality GaN layers from a single GaN wafer to produce multiple engineered GaN substrates.
Sumitomo has the manufacturing technology for GaN wafers and Soitec its Smart Cut layer-transfer technology. The alliance had originally produced two-inch wafers.
With the successful demonstration of GaN wafers’ scalability, the partner companies are now proceeding with the next step to invest and establish pilot production lines in Itami, Japan, and Bernin, France.
The pilot lines will initially fabricate four-inch wafers with six-inch wafer production to quickly follow to support customers demand.
Sumitomo Electric will manufacture bulk free-standing GaN substrates in Japan for shipment to France, where Soitec will apply its Smart Cut layer-transfer process to generate the final engineered wafers with the same thermal expansion (CTE) as GaN wafers. The resulting wafers have low defect density, enabling the manufacturing of advanced semiconductor devices at lower costs than bulk GaN wafers.
“With layer-transfer technology’s production readiness now proven for larger wafers, the substrates can be made even more cost effectively for large-volume production,” said Yoshiki Miura, general manager of the Compound Semiconductor Materials Division at Sumitomo Electric.