EVs are driving the growth of power module packaging as the transition to mass production of EV/HEV changes the rules of the game. Technology alone is not enough; low cost is increasingly essential. The power module is one of the key elements in power converters and inverters. The market for power modules will reach US$7.6 billion by 2025, with a CAGR2019-2025 of 9.1%. As shown in the Status of Power Module Packaging report from Yole Développement (Yole), the power module packaging material market will achieve a CAGR2019-2025 of 10.7%, to be worth US$2.71 billion by 2025.
In the past, packaging needs were driven by industrial applications, but today they are increasingly driven by EV/HEVs. In fact, by 2025 EV/HEVs will become the most prominent power module market, representing a market value of almost US$3.4 billion. This market’s promising outlook is beneficial for the power module packaging material business.
Today, Shalu Agarwal, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole, interviews Gyan Dutt, Global Portfolio Manager at MacDermid Alpha, one of the top electronics solutions suppliers, to learn more about their products and expertise and gain a deeper understanding of future trends for the power electronics industry.
Shalu Agarwal (SA): Please briefly introduce yourself and MacDermid Alpha’s power module packaging activities to i-micronews.com’s readers.
Gyan Dutt (GD): My name is Gyan Dutt, and I work for MacDermid Alpha as Global Portfolio Manager for Power Electronics. Based in the US, I manage the product portfolio and strategic marketing for the power electronics business.
MacDermid Alpha provides thermo-mechanical interconnects at all levels for power electronics packaging – die attach, top side attach, and module / heat-sink assembly. The products are solid-state sintering (industry-leading brand Argomax) pastes, sintering films, and soldering materials in paste and preform/ribbon format.
SA: Can you tell us what the packaging solutions developed by MacDermid Alpha are? What are MacDermid Alpha’s latest innovations and products?
GD: As I mentioned in the introduction, we provide interconnect materials for all levels of the power electronics module stack. For this, we have a wide portfolio that includes solid-state sintering as well as solder-based materials. For die attach, we offer a full range of sintering products in different forms: paste, films, preforms, and bond line control solder preforms and ribbons. For top-side attach (to the clip), we also provide sintering films laminated clips, sintering preforms, and preforms with bond line control technology. Finally, for the package/module attach to the heat-sink, our silver sintering materials are already in production with both sintering and solder materials.
Our most novel solutions are built around sintering film technology. With film, we provide a dry, ready-to-sinter format that is laminated on die, wafer, clip, or a leadframe. It allows our customers to skip the printing and drying steps associated with the paste, thus significantly cutting down the development and qualification lead times.
SA: What is your business strategy for differentiating added value to face intense competition from other players?
GD: Our strategy is based on delivering differentiated products and solutions that enable the highest reliability and performance. For example, our sintering materials are developed using proprietary particle technology that has been proven to have the fastest process time with the highest reliability. Apart from the materials themselves, we have also focused on developing flexible and easy-to-use form factors that substantially reduce the capital cost and time-to-market. We are not the lowest-cost provider, but we do deliver the best value. MacDermid Alpha has built an ecosystem that includes technical solutions, partnering with the most recognized equipment manufacturers globally and leading-edge application labs in all three regions of the globe. This combination is unique and clearly positions MacDermid Alpha as the partner of choice for the industry.
SA: What are the main applications that MacDermid Alpha will be targeting in the coming years to ensure its packaging activities’ success?
GD: We are focused on all those power electronics applications that require reliability and performance at high operating temperatures. Among the end applications, automotive is, of course, the focus of the moment. Die attach has gone the sintering route, and now the focus is on improving the thermo-mechanical reliability of the other layers. These include die-top as well as second-level module attach.
Courtesy of MacDermid Alpha, 2021
SA: At Yole, analysts see several changes in the supply chain for EV manufacturing. As a key supplier to this industry, can you give us your view of this evolution?
GD: Electrification of transportation is a transformational opportunity not just for MacDermid Alpha but for the entire global economy. Over the last 100 years, a trillion dollars have been invested in the development and perfection of the internal combustion engine. We believe EV drivetrain and battery development will happen much more rapidly, with a fraction of the investment and resources, and will involve new players with disruptive technology and business models. The fully electric drivetrain combined with rapidly evolving computing power and connectivity bandwidth will make EVs more energy-efficient, cost-effective, safer, and, of course, fun to drive. And we believe it will happen faster than most of us anticipate.
SA: How will EV/HEV needs re-shape the current power module packaging technologies? Do you see more silver sintering, for example? Double side cooling or more copper wires?
GD: Absolutely, sintering is a key enabling technology for EVs with drive trains that can last up to a million miles. The traditional power modules were not designed for EV traction and suffered from poor heat dissipation and an inability to handle high temperature and mechanical stress (usually together during prolonged or peak operation). Sintering has improved the reliability, energy efficiency, and performance by managing the transients and making the EV driving experience much more intuitive and fun. We believe the adoption will continue to the layers beyond die attach – replacement of wire bonds, solder, and thermal grease-based interconnect layers. In the short term, we see a lot of effort to replace wire bonds with clips that are sintered to the die top. Then large area modules are being sintered to the heat sink as well.
SA: According to MacDermid Alpha, what is the status of the WBG technologies, especially for packaging solutions?
GD: SiC semiconductors are becoming mainstream, at least for EV traction with both MOSFETS and diodes. We also see GaN catching up – with 5G in the short term and even with EV in the longer term. But we believe in harnessing the true potential of WBG semiconductors – high-temperature stable packaging needs to be developed. This is one area that we have focused on, and we will be ready to lead with our high-temperature joining technologies that are stable at 225oC or even higher – starting with aerospace applications and quickly followed by automotive.
There have been several announcements relating to the use of a 300mm production line for power electronics. For example, Yole is aware of the transfer of NY 300mm fab from GlobalFoundries to ON Semiconductor and the announcement of the sale of two 200mm fabs. It seems that everything is ready for big changes in production throughput.
We are excited about 300mm wafer adoption for power semiconductors. We believe this will bring economies of scale to both front- and back-end processes and ultimately cost benefits that will help accelerate the adoption even faster. As for 300mm yields, a higher wafer-level die attach solution will become even more compelling and ultimately inevitable for packaging discretes– just as happened for memory with adoption of 300mm. MacDermid Alpha is betting on sintering films that can withstand wafer-level processes like lamination and dicing, which will enable sintering of die attach chips ready for pick-place. The initial implementation could be with smaller diodes but will then move to IGBTs for discretes.
SA: What short-term and long-term impacts do you foresee in the semiconductor industry from the push in China for local power semiconductor manufacturing?
GD: China is, of course, the biggest market for EV/HEV drivetrains, and this lead might even grow over the next decade. While all Chinese OEMs and Tier1s are leading in production at the system level, there are many opportunities for global players at module assembly and power semiconductor packaging level. This includes design, process, material, and characterization/testing solutions for reliability and performance. China is a key focus for MacDermid Alpha, from wafer level interconnects to packaging materials at die and module level. Apart from packaging and interconnect materials, there are also finishes and metallizations at the system level.
Precut film – Courtesdy of MacDermid Alpha, 2021
SA: What has been the impact on the power semiconductor market of the COVID-19 crisis? In this context, does MacDermid Alpha see the supply chain re-shaping in this industry?
GD: COVID-19 is not essentially a turning point in EV evolution but more of an inflection point that will accelerate the trends that were already in place. I think we have managed the disruptions exceptionally well. Our supply chain has held up well, and we have also supported our customers and partners with technical expertise on projects. The crisis has also underscored our global footprint strategy with strong products and solutions that are delivered locally with trained support. 2020 was still an exceptional year in terms of revenues for our group, despite the global conditions.
Gyan Dutt is Global Portfolio Manager for Power Electronics with MacDermid Alpha in the US. He is responsible for the portfolio planning, roadmap, and strategic marketing function in the power electronics business group. He has more than 15-years’ experience in marketing, product management, applications engineering, and technical service roles in the American and Asian regions. He received an MS in Materials Science from the University of Tennessee and an MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Shalu Agarwal, PhD., is a Power Electronics and Materials Analyst at Yole Développement (Yole), within the Power & Wireless division. Based in Seoul, Shalu is engaged in the development of technology & market reports and the production of custom consulting studies.
Shalu has more than 10-years’ experience in Electronic Material Chemistry. Before joining Yole, she worked as a project manager and research professor in electronic materials, batteries, and inorganic chemistry.
Shalu Agarwal received her master’s and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee (India).
EVs are driving the growth of power module packaging as going to mass production of EV/HEV changes the rules of game. Technology alone is not enough, low cost is increasingly important.
China is reshaping the power electronic industry.
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