GTAT of Hudson, NH, USA (which produces crystal growth equipment for the solar, power electronics and optoelectronics industries as well as sapphire material for precision optics and other specialty industries) and GlobalWafers Co (GWC) of Hsinchu, Taiwan have entered into a long-term agreement whereby the expertise of both companies will combine to forge a new source of supply of silicon carbide (SiC) wafers.
Already one of the world’s three largest silicon wafer manufacturers – having been founded in 1981 as the semiconductor business unit of SAS (Sino-American Silicon Product.) before being spun off in 2011 – GWC will now add 150mm silicon carbide to its offering, manufactured from bulk SiC crystal produced by GTAT. As the electric vehicle (EV) and power electronics industries shift away from silicon to silicon carbide, GTAT and GWC aim to pool their respective capabilities to increase supply while lowering costs for the high-demand substrate material.
“The fundamental advantages of silicon carbide are well known and demand for it is high, but it’s a difficult material to make,” says GTAT’s president & CEO Greg Knight. “Because of our crystal-growth knowhow and ability to master this complex process, we can positively shape and influence the silicon carbide wafer industry by diversifying the supply chain, enabling higher wafer volumes and lowering costs significantly for this high-value material,” he reckons.
For GTAT, the agreement marks the completion of an 18-month transition from selling equipment to providing advanced materials. By utilizing this incoming supply of silicon carbide material from GTAT, GWC can now apply years of wafer process development to become a SiC wafer supplier, complementing its other substrate offerings. “The power electronics industry needs supply agreements such as the one we’ve entered into with GWC,” says Knight.
“Bringing our companies’ respective technical strengths together will benefit high-growth industries such as EV because we will increase the global supply of silicon carbide wafers,” says GWC’s chairperson & CEO Doris Hsu. “Pairing our expertise in wafers with GTAT’s premiere-quality silicon carbide crystal will enable important, high-growth industries like EV to reach key adoption milestones sooner and at lower cost.”
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