从最上游的半导体晶圆来看,碳化硅晶圆是势头正热的新材料,不过,究竟是什麽原因,让既有厂商与新进者,争相扩产或佈局? With the emergence of new applications such as 5G and electric vehicles, the era of the Internet of Things is coming, and the demand for power semiconductors has increased. Compound semiconductor materials such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) have jumped into the market focus; from the most upstream semiconductor crystals In the circle, silicon carbide wafers are a new material that is gaining momentum, but what is the reason for existing manufacturers and new entrants to compete for expansion or layout?


Speaking from the advantages of compound semiconductors


第二代开始进入由2 种以上元素组成的化合物半导体材料,以砷化镓(GaAs)、磷化铟(InP) 等为代表; 第三代则是氮化镓(GaN)、碳化硅(SiC) 等宽频化合物半导体材料。 Semiconductor materials have gone through three stages of development. The first generation was basic functional materials such as silicon (Si) and germanium (Ge); the second generation began to enter compound semiconductor materials composed of more than two elements, with gallium arsenide (GaAs), Indium phosphide (InP) is the representative; the third generation is a wide-band compound semiconductor material such as gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon carbide (SiC).


At present, more than 95% of the world's semiconductor components are silicon-based semiconductors using silicon as a basic functional material. However, with the new applications such as electric vehicles and 5G, the demand for high-frequency and high-power components in circuits has grown. The physical properties of silicon-restricted materials have bottlenecks that are not easy to break through in performance. This has also led manufacturers to focus on new materials with better performance and compete in the field of compound semiconductors.


Recently, the third-generation semiconductor materials, gallium nitride and silicon carbide, belong to a wide bandgap material. They have the advantages of high frequency, high voltage and high temperature resistance, and good electrical conductivity and heat dissipation. It can reduce energy consumption and the component size is relatively small, which is suitable for power semiconductor applications.


Because in the application of high-voltage power components, silicon-based components often cause a large amount of power loss due to excessive on-resistance, but under the bottleneck of silicon materials, the on-resistance of gallium nitride and silicon carbide is much smaller than that of silicon-based materials. Losses and switching losses are reduced, replaced by higher energy conversion efficiency. With the advantages of high frequency and high voltage, gallium nitride and silicon carbide have emerged as the rising stars of semiconductor materials in the 5G era.


Gallium nitride is mainly used in the voltage range of 600 to 1000 volts. It has the advantages of low on-resistance, high frequency, and low sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation. It can operate in high temperature and high voltage environments and is ideal for microwave frequency power. Amplifier components, including inverters, transformers, and wireless charging.


GaN is the first choice for wireless communication equipment amplifiers such as base stations, radars and avionics. In the future, 5G base station power supply modules and on-board charging of electric vehicles will continue to increase demand. Although the proportion of gallium nitride in the RF field is still higher than that in the power field, some GaN power components have been introduced, including gaming computers and data center servers, to provide better power conversion efficiency.


Silicon carbide materials also have the advantages of low on-resistance, high switching frequency, high temperature resistance and high voltage resistance. They can be used in high voltage environments above 1200 volts. Compared with gallium nitride, silicon carbide has higher efficiency and has a wide range of applications. , Such as wind power, railways and other large vehicles, solar inverters, uninterruptible power systems, smart grids, power supplies and other high power applications.


Silicon Carbide has advantages and is expected to become the new darling of electric vehicle component materials


Recently, with the development of electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles, silicon carbide materials have rapidly risen in the field of new energy vehicles. The main applications include car chargers, step-down converters and inverters. Tesla has taken the lead in the use of SiC MOSFET components in its Model 3 electric vehicle inverters to reduce conduction and switching losses, thereby increasing Model 3 driving distance, and has also caused discussions in the field of EVs for SiC MOSFETs.


However, although the performance and heat dissipation performance of SiC MOSFET is better, the limited cost is too high, and the production technology of silicon carbide wafers is complex. The yield rate is not as good as that of silicon wafers, which also makes silicon carbide's current penetration rate in the field of electric vehicles. not tall.


However, in September this year, Delphi, the world's largest supplier of automotive components, announced the latest 800-volt inverter using silicon carbide modules, which can extend the distance of electric vehicles and shorten the charging time of electric vehicles. It has also successfully won orders from major customers for 8 years. The contract is expected to provide customers with 800-volt high-end models starting in 2022. The world ’s largest automotive component maker has also invested in silicon carbide technology, which also adds more imagination for the future development potential of silicon carbide in the automotive market.


Existing manufacturers aggressively expand production


At present, the global manufacturers of silicon carbide wafers include CREE, SiCrystal, II-IV, Norstel, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo, and Dow Corning, which are owned by ROHM. Among them, CREE has a market share of as much as 60%, almost dominating the market. The market and CREE announced in May this year that they are optimistic about the market demand of 5G and electric vehicles, and will invest 1 billion US dollars to expand production in the next 5 years.


Focusing on the advantages of silicon carbide in the field of electric vehicles and power electronics, the global silicon wafer manufacturer in Taiwan, China, and the world's third largest silicon wafer supplier, Global Crystal, are also actively entering the silicon carbide wafer field. Volume shipments, and Universal Crystal announced in August this year that it has signed a long-term silicon carbide crystal ball contract with GTAT to ensure a long-term stable supply of silicon carbide crystal balls in line with market demand, in order to accelerate the development of silicon carbide wafer products Proportion of relevant supply chains in the global semiconductor market.


In addition to the Taiwan wafer factory, Jiajing, an epitaxial silicon wafer factory owned by Hanlei Investment Controls, has also entered the silicon carbide epitaxial foundry service, while Hanleike, the group's wafer foundry, provides SiC Diode and SiC MOSFET foundry. service.


SK Siltron, the only semiconductor silicon wafer factory in South Korea, echoes the recent policy of material technology autonomy promoted by the South Korean government. It also announced in September this year that it intends to acquire the silicon carbide wafer business of DuPont, a US chemical manufacturer, and actively cut into the second. Generational semiconductor wafer technology.


With the successive expansion of production capacity of existing manufacturers and new entrants, the trend of silicon carbide wafers becoming a new semiconductor material has been established. Although the cost and technical threshold are high, and the product yield is not high, factors such as silicon carbide crystals It is still difficult to popularize in the short term, but as 5G and electric vehicle demand continue to drive, it will become the biggest driver to accelerate the rapid development of the silicon carbide wafer market. With the improvement of product reliability and performance, terminal manufacturers' confidence in new materials, It is also expected to improve with it.

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