Qualcomm adopts Soitec POI wafers for SAW filters

July 07, 2020 //By Peter Clarke
Qualcomm adopts Soitec POI wafers for SAW filters
SOI wafer supplier Soitec has made an agreement with Qualcomm Technologies to supply piezoelectric-on-insulator (POI) wafers for a new generation of RF SAW filters for 4G and 5G cellular communications.

The potential value of the deal was not disclosed.

The POI substrate has a top layer of piezoelectric material lithium tantalate (LiTaO3) that is between 300nm and 1-micron thick. This is above a buried oxide layer above high-resistivity silicon. The buried oxide selects and guides only high velocity waves, allowing for low loss and very high signal selectivity. It also keeps the piezo material constrained against temperature variations, ensuring outstanding frequency stability against temperature changes.

The POI volume production method makes use of the same "smart-cut" process used by Soitec for the production of SOI and silicon-carbide wafers.

After multiple years of research collaboration with Qualcomm, Soitec has agreed to make POI wafers in high volume for use in Qualcomm Technologies’ RF filters going to smartphones RF front end modules. Soitec is producing POI on 150nm-diameter wafers.

"With our game-changing thin-film technology and innovation in the Qualcomm ultraSAW RF filter products, we continue to push the boundaries of what's possible in mobile technology," said Christian Block, general manager, of Qualcomm Germany RFFE GmbH. "The combination of Soitec smart-cut based piezoelectric-on-insulator substrates and Qualcomm Technologies' filter design and system expertise leads to high-yield multiplexers with multiple filter functions per die."

Soitec is enjoying strong demand across the breadth of its engineered wafer offerings. In June 2020 the company announced that for its full fiscal year ended March 31, 2020, it made a net profit of €109.7 million on sales of €597.5 million. Sales were up 35 percent and net profit was up 22 percent.

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