Silicon Carbide Arms Race About to Begin?

Posted: April 18, 2014 by mattmargolis24 in Sic (Silicon Carbide), Uncategorized
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by Matt Margolis

In December 2013 PVA TePla of Wettenberg, Germany launched the baSiC-T physical vapor transport (PVT) crystal growth system (which uses sublimation of a source powder at high temperatures) for the mass production of silicon carbide (SiC) material.

The equipment announcement also indicated the current market for SiC crystals (see below)

Typical applications of SiC crystal include high-performance electronics for end-markets such as hybrid and electric cars and air-conditioning systems, as well as optoelectronics applications such as LEDs and DC/AC converters for photovoltaics.

The major advantage of silicon carbide material lies in the energy-saving potential of over 40% compared with conventional silicon components, says the firm. In addition, SiC can also be used at high temperatures and high voltages in excess of 10,000V, dramatically exceeding the potential of silicon.

PVA TePla says that the design of the baSiC-T system is based on a modular concept and allows the use of substrates (seeds) with a diameter ranging from 100mm to 150mm. Low operating costs and a high degree of automation facilitate inexpensive mass production of silicon carbide, the firm claims.

GT Advanced Technologies introduced their Siclone 100 furnace in July 2013, which could produce wafers up to 100mm in diameter. It appears that the competition has a 50mm wafer size advantage, but GT has the ability to couple their Siclone 100 furnaces with Hyperion to produce ultra thin wafers between 25 and 50 microns thick.

MERRIMACK, N.H., July 1, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — GT Advanced Technologies (Nasdaq:GTAT), today introduced its new SiClone™100 silicon carbide (SiC) production furnace. The SiClone100 uses a sublimation growth technique capable of producing high quality semiconducting bulk SiC crystal that can be finished into wafers up to 100 millimeters in diameter. In its initial offering, the SiClone100 is targeted at customers that have developed their own hot zone, qualified a bulk crystal production recipe and are looking to begin volume production.

My Obscure takeaway is that the Silicon Carbide (SiC) marketplace is beginning to take shape. Competition is a good thing because it means that companies are competing to win contracts within the SiC marketplace that has yet to go mainstream.

GT summarized the current marketplace in July at the time of the Siclone 100 product release.

The company continues to expect SiC furnace sales to contribute to less than 1% of its calendar year 2013 revenue and expects the SiC revenue ramp in 2014 and beyond to develop at a gradual pace given the lengthy design cycle associated with new power devices.

Keep an eye on the Silicon Carbide marketplace because the competition has arrived and I’m thinking SiC furnace orders will begin to be placed sooner rather than later. The biggest question that remains is who will dominate the SiC furnace marketplace?

Full Disclosure: I am long GTAT and have no plans to buy or sell anytime soon

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Comments
  1. Barry Fitzgerald says:

    Size matters….in chip processing, the size of the wafer is very important as it can impact yield per wafer significantly. A 50% advantage in size of the wafer gives a 2.25X increase in yield for the same run. So, the question will be material cost of a 100mm GTAT wafer versus a 150MM competitive wafer. For that I can not guess w/o more info.

    Like

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