Infineon Technologies has signed a key deal for the supply of silicon carbide SiC materials.
The deal with GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT) in the US for SiC boules has an initial term of five years that are the starting point of SiC wafers. A leading European semiconductor executive, Bob Krysiak, recently joined the board of GTAT.
The deal is key for its CoolSiC product line for automotive, industrial and consumer designs, says the company, whihc will use its expertise in thin wafers. This is a signficant challenge for SiC which is approaching diamond in its hardness.
“SiC is playing an important role and we are constantly expanding our devices optimised for cars. We began delivering CoolSiC for volume production in the past quarter,” said Reinhard Ploss, CEO of Infineon.
“We are seeing a steadily increasing demand for SiC-based switches, especially for industrial applications,” said Peter Wawer, President of Infineon’s Industrial Power Control Division. “However, it has become clear that the automotive sector is quickly following suit. With the supply agreement we have now concluded, we ensure that we will be able to meet the rapidly growing demand of our customers with a diversified supplier base. GTAT’s high-quality boules will provide an additional source for competitive SiC wafers fulfilling the best-in-class material standards now and in the future. This supports our ambitious SiC growth plans, making good use of our existing in-house technologies and core competencies in thin-wafer manufacturing.”
The value of semiconductors in electric vehicles is 80 percent higher than gasoline vehicles and the and power semiconductors are 75 percent of this,” said Ploss. “Of the 20 best selling electric and hybrid vehicles, 15 have Infineon chips,” he said.
“We are very excited to enter into a long-term supply agreement with Infineon,” said Greg Knight, President and CEO of GT Advanced Technologies. “GTAT will enable Infineon to achieve a secure high-quality internal SiC wafer supply by applying their proprietary thin-wafer technology to GTAT’s crystal. The growth of SiC device adoption is tied largely to the aggressive cost down of the substrate, and this agreement is a significant step towards achieving that goal.”
SiC has mainly been used up to now in photovoltaic inverters, industrial power supplies, and the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Other industrial applications such as uninterruptible power supplies and variable-speed drives are increasingly making use of the new semiconductor technology. In addition, electric vehicles show enormous potential for application options, including the main inverters for the drive train and onboard battery charging units.
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