The expansion of silicon carbide production drives the rapid development of special equipment

Jul 28,2022

Silicon carbide power devices are accelerating penetration in automotive and other application fields, showing huge market space and attracting various manufacturers to increase production expansion. After Wolfspeed's first 8-inch line was put into production, Bosch Group, Rohm, Infineon, Toshiba recently The expansion and new construction of silicon carbide production lines have also been announced.

Compared with traditional silicon wafer production lines, the silicon carbide manufacturing process brings different demands on equipment.

Giuseppe Arena, director of STMicroelectronics' automotive power device project, said that due to the unique physical and chemical properties of wide-bandgap materials, the silicon carbide manufacturing process is quite different from traditional silicon-based power devices in epitaxial growth, ion implantation, and high-temperature annealing. Modules such as special chambers are designed to control defects and improve productivity. Special tools are also required in etching, thinning and other links.

As the process and equipment mature, some IDM companies are considering transforming the outdated 6-inch silicon wafer production line into a silicon carbide production line. Industry experts estimate that it only needs 20 million US dollars of investment to adjust the process and purchase a small amount of special equipment. This kind of production line transformation can be completed.

At present, the division of labor and specialization has begun to appear in this field, and companies such as X-Fab have already set foot in the silicon carbide foundry business.

Clas-SiC, located in Scotland, UK, operates a 6-inch silicon carbide foundry production line. 10-15% of the production line is dedicated silicon carbide equipment, and most of the remaining equipment is refurbished from silicon wafer production lines. The company is responsible for According to Rae Hyndman, the silicon carbide industry also faces delivery bottlenecks when purchasing second-hand equipment.

The silicon carbide market is promising, and it also attracts equipment manufacturers to increase investment in this field. David Haynes, a technical expert at Fanlin, said that the common challenge faced by equipment developed for silicon wafer processes when processing silicon carbide substrates is the latter. Nearly transparent in the visible and near-infrared regions, the detection module needs to be optimized.

Another equipment giant, Applied Materials, has also launched a number of special silicon carbide equipment. Its CMP equipment designed for the special physical and chemical properties of silicon carbide is said to significantly reduce the surface defects of silicon carbide wafers, according to Sally Ann Henry, business development director of Shengmei Company. Said that the current silicon carbide special equipment market is still in the early stage of development, and most IDMs are still operating 6-inch production lines. (bridge tools) will be very attractive. Such equipment can be introduced in the 6-inch production line first. Because it is equipped with the most advanced detection module, it can quickly adapt to the future 8-inch production line after replacing the fixture, loading and unloading modules. Wire.