Project to improve silicon carbide wafer substrates

November 28, 2019 // By Peter Clarke
Wafer supplier Soitec is working with Applied Materials on a new approach to build silicon carbide (SiC) substrates.
Wafer supplier Soitec is working with Applied Materials on a new approach to building silicon carbide (SiC) substrates.

Demand is increasing for silicon carbide (SiC) for power semiconductors for use in electric vehicles, telecommunication and industrial applications. However, there are factors that impact the supply, yield and cost of substrates.

Soitec intends to apply its smart-cut technology – in use to produce silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers – while Applied Materials will bring process technology and equipment expertise.

Smart cut is a technological process that enables the transfer of thin layers of crystalline silicon material onto a mechanical support, usually a simple silicon "handler" wafer. The method produces extremely thin layers of active engineered surface ready for IC manufacture and allows reuse of a low-cost handler wafers.

Under the development program, the companies will install a silicon carbide engineered substrate pilot line at the Substrate Innovation Center located at CEA-Leti. The line is expected to be operational by the first half of 2020, with the goal of producing silicon carbide wafer samples using Soitec’s Smart Cut technology in the second half of 2020.

"Silicon carbide can enable higher power density and better efficiency semiconductors in electric vehicles," said Berthold Hellenthal, head semiconductor strategy at Audi,  in a statement issued by Soitec. "We are pleased to see Soitec and Applied Materials working together to advance this technology."

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