Who will be the last winner of the SiC market?

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/ 2019-04-15 / News

According to EE Times news, not long ago, STMicroelectronics outlined its efforts to develop silicon carbide (SiC) business at its Catania, Italy, as a key to strategy and revenue. Part of the plan. At ST's recent quarterly and annual results presentation, ST President and Chief Technology Officer Jean-Marc Chery repeatedly reiterated plans to occupy a 30% share of the $3.7 billion SiC market by 2025.

 

Since SiC has high withstand voltage, low loss, high efficiency, etc., it can make power devices break through silicon limits, resulting in better conductivity and power performance. . These improvements are in line with the needs of the current automotive electronics, industrial automation and new energy sectors. Therefore, major manufacturers have launched a layout on SiC.

 

The silicon carbide market is growing tremendously

 

According to Yole's "Power Silicon Carbide (SiC) Materials, Devices and Applications - 2018 Edition" released in 2018, the total market value of SiC power will exceed $1.4 billion by 2023, 2017. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in 2023 will reach 29%. Currently, the SiC power market is still primarily driven by diodes used in power factor correction (PFC) and photovoltaic (PV) applications. Yole expects that the main factor driving the growth of the SiC device market in the next five years will be transistors, which will have a compound annual growth rate of 50% between 2017 and 2023.

 

From the perspective of the industrial chain, SiC includes single crystal substrates, epitaxial wafers, device design, device manufacturing, etc., but the global silicon carbide market is currently abroad. The monopoly of the enterprise. Among them, especially in the United States, Europe, and Japan. The United States is in a leading position, accounting for 70%-80% of global SiC production; Europe has a complete SiC substrate, epitaxy, device and application industry chain; Japan is the absolute leader in equipment and module development.

 

The active SiC market has attracted the attention of many companies in the industry. Specifically, in the global market, single crystal substrate companies mainly include Cree, Dow Corning, SiCrystal, II-VI, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo, Norstel, etc.; epitaxial wafer companies mainly include Dow Corning, II-VI, Norstel, Cree, Luo M, Mitsubishi Electric, Infineon, etc.; major related companies in the device, including Infineon, Cree, Roma, STMicroelectronics and so on.

 

However, it is limited by the current high price of SiC products, and because of its high requirements on the external environment during the growth process, it also produces SiC. The quality of the raw crystal column is unstable. As a result, there are not enough wafers to supply the market. Thus, SiC products have been monopolized by a few companies.

 

In 2001, Infineon of Germany introduced SiC diode products, and manufacturers such as Cree and STMicroelectronics of the United States followed closely with SiC diode products. then,SiC diodes have also been put into production in Japan, Roma, Nippon Wireless and Renesas Electronics. After that, the global market structure of SiC has basically taken shape. In recent years, due to the general optimistic demand for automotive electronics, SiC traditional manufacturers have made new moves.

 

Strong international marketers

 

Since entering 2019, French semiconductors have frequent movements in SiC. In addition to the introduction of STMicroelectronics, SiC is divided into key components of the company's strategy. STMicroelectronics also signed an agreement with Norwegian silicon carbide wafer manufacturer Norstel to acquire a 55% stake in February this year. It is reported that Norstel was spun off from Linkping University in 2005.

 

In January 2017, Norstel was acquired by Essence Capital, which was funded by the Fujian Provincial Government and the National Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund. Million dollars) fund project,Sanan Optoelectronics participated in the management of the fund. Norstel produces 150mm SiC bare wafers and epitaxial wafers. STMicroelectronics said that after the transaction is completed, it will control the entire supply chain of some SiC devices with limited global capacity. As materials and SiC-based products become more mature, STMicroelectronics has developed automotive-grade SiC power devices that are becoming a key driver of automotive electrification.

 

Before STMicroelectronics, the same manufacturer of SiC, the German manufacturer Infineon also took action here. Infineon has launched the CoolSiC series, which covers a wide range of applications, such as photovoltaics, electric vehicle charging, electric vehicles: increasing driving range, reducing electrical system size, UPS/SMPS1, traction and motor drive. In November 2018, Infineon announced that it has acquired a startup called Siltectra that has invested in an innovative technology cold cut (Cold&S;Spilt).

 

It is reported that “cold cutting” is an efficient process for processing crystalline materials.Ability to minimize material loss. Infineon plans to use this technology for the cutting of silicon carbide (SiC) wafers, and it has not achieved industrial scale use of the technology in the next five years. This will double the number of chips that can be produced on a single wafer and further increase the market for silicon carbide. It is understood that as of 2018, Infineon SiC accounted for more than 50% of the market in the charging pile market.

 

In addition, Roma has long been concerned about SiC and has begun to work with users and universities to accumulate technical experience. In 2018, ROHM announced that it has officially invested in a silicon carbide (SiC) MOSFET module (rated specification 1200V/180A) for inverters/converters such as industrial devices and solar power regulators. Mass production.

 

Rome plans to reach 30% of the company's SiC-related products in the industry by 2025. The main areas covered by ROHM silicon carbide power components include:Vehicle power supply, solar power conditioner and power storage system, server, EV charging station. Among them, EV charging station products can account for 39% of the company's total SiC devices.

 

However, not everyone agrees on the application prospects of silicon carbide power devices. ABB is an expert in high-power semiconductors, but in 2002, the joint development center in Sweden terminated the SiC development project. The chief engineer of ABB Switzerland Semiconductors R&D said: "SiC is suitable for low-voltage unipolar diodes in the short term, and it also has potential for low-power bipolar transistors and junction field-effect transistors in high-frequency applications. SiC in the long run On the other hand, it is more worthy of attention in other high-voltage applications than other types of switching devices.”

 

So, what is the domestic silicon carbide market?

 


Domestic players catch up directly

 

After years of layout, the third-generation semiconductor industry in China is experiencing rapid development. SiC Materials,  devices are in full force, and the domestic competition pattern is beginning to emerge. Among them, SiC single crystal and epitaxial wafers are in the domestic SiC industry chain. More mature links.

 

In terms of single crystal substrates, the domestic substrate is mainly 4 inches. At present, a 6-inch conductive SiC substrate has been developed. High-purity semi-insulating SiC substrate. According to CASA data, Shandong Tianyue, Tianke Heda, Hebei Tongguang, and Zhongke Energy-saving have completed the research and development of 6-inch substrate, and the CLP equipment has developed a 6-inch semi-insulating substrate.

 

In terms of epitaxial wafers, domestic Tianchengcheng, Dongguan Tianyu Semiconductor, and National Technology subsidiary National Tiancheng can supply 4-6 inch epitaxial wafers.The 13 and 55 companies of the CLP have also supplied the epitaxial wafer production department.

 

In terms of device/module/IDM, China lacks in the design of silicon carbide devices, and no manufacturer has involved this. However, in the module and device manufacturing process, a number of outstanding enterprises have emerged in China, including Sanan Integration, Haiwei Huaxin, Tyco Tianrun, Zhongche Times, Century Golden Light, Core Light Run, Shenzhen Basic, Guoyang Electronics, Silan Micro, Yang Jie Technology, Zhanxin Electronics, Tianjin Central, Jiangsu Huagong, Dalian Core Crown, Ju Licheng Semiconductor. At the same time, BYD also announced that it has invested heavily in the layout of semiconductor material SiC (silicon carbide).

 

The current mainstream SiC power device products, including metal-oxide semiconductors for replacing silicon insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) in applications above 900V Field effect transistors (MOSFETs), and Schottky diodes that replace silicon fast recovery (FRD) in applications above 600V. In addition, international manufacturers have already laid out the layout on 1200V products. Although China has made some breakthroughs in this field, it will still be slightly inferior.

 

From the application point of view, the main layout areas of domestic SiC enterprises are mainly concentrated in the fields of new energy power generation, new energy vehicles, rail transit and smart grid. . It is basically consistent with the key areas of international market development.

 

In the face of the actions of international SiC manufacturers, domestic SiC-related companies should pay close attention to research in this field. Perhaps in the near future, with the outbreak of third-generation semiconductor materials applications, the domestic semiconductor market will usher in another picture.

 

Which is the final winner in this multi-party SiC market?

 


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