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Engineered GaN substrates, major breakthrough announced

Engineered gallium nitride substrates, major breakthrough announced
Engineered gallium nitride substrates, major breakthrough announced

Two companies claim to have reached a major milestone in the development of four and six inch engineered gallium nitride (GaN) substrates. There are now plans to launch pilot production lines.

Semiconductor materials specialists Soitec (Euronext) and Sumitomo Electric Industries produced the substrates by transferring ultra thin high quality GaN layers from a single GaN wafer to produce multiple engineered GaN substrates. Both companies say the substrates are suitable for manufacturing advanced high brightness leds for the lighting market and power efficient controllers for the electric vehicles and energy markets.

Sumitomo originally combined its GaN wafer manufacturing technology with Soitec's Smart Cut layer transfer technology in a joint development programme to produce two inch wafers. Having successfully achieved this, they plan to invest and establish pilot production lines in Japan and France, to initially fabricate four inch wafers - with six inch wafer production scheduled to quickly follow. Sumitomo 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 as GaN wafers. The resulting wafers, claim the two companies, have low density, enabling the manufacture of advanced semiconductor devices at lower costs than bulk GaN wafers.

Frédéric Dupont, vice president of Soitec's Specialty Electronics Business Unit, said: "Our partnership's successful demonstration of four and sic inch engineered GaN substrates' scalability is a critical milestone, accomplished by applying very strong innovative capabilities from both sides. The advanced substrates we are developing will allow the introduction of a new materials platform with novel and advanced functionalities."

Yoshiki Miura, general manager of the Compound Semiconductor Materials Division at Sumitomo Electric, added: "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. We look forward to continuing our successful collaboration with Soitec to fulfill the requirements of the led and energy markets, which represent amazing business opportunities."

Author
Chris Shaw

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