Explore the benefits of wide-bandgap materials

SiC & GaN

X-FAB is the first pure-play foundry to provide comprehensive processing technologies for the wide-bandgap materials silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN). Wide-bandgap materials offer unprecedented benefits for high-power or high-frequency applications. More efficient, smaller, lighter, faster, more reliable – with their high current densities and higher switching frequencies, SiC and GaN materials enable new and improved applications in more and more market segments.

Some years ago already, we saw a growing demand for a foundry offering for these “exotic” materials and invested in capabilities to provide SiC and GaN technologies on larger wafer diameters than the current standard.

We are processing GaN-on-Si wafers in our modern 8” fab in Dresden, Germany, and SiC wafers in our 6” fab in Lubbock, Texas, USA. Thanks to our newest dedicated processing equipment, measurement tools and processing technologies, customers can import their projects into a stable and trusted, fully automotive-qualified fab environment.

With our extensive knowledge and technical expertise, we support our customers in creating their own SiC or GaN devices in high quality, with high performance and in fast-time-to-market projects. With our sites in Dresden and Texas focused on serving the growing markets, we are fully prepared for the expected acceleration in shipments of SiC and GaN devices – enabling key applications, such as charging applications, electric vehicles and advanced power management systems.  

The SiC and GaN markets are growing fast. Now is the right time to secure your access to world class devices.

Agnes Jahnke, Product Marketing Manager SiC & GaN

Applications

Using wide bandgap materials offers some crucial benefits that can be a gamechanger for some applications. Both materials, SiC and GaN, enable higher current density, higher breakdown voltage, lower RDS(on), higher switching frequency and low switching losses. Modules using GaN or SiC will have higher efficiency, can be smaller, less complex, lower in weight and are proven to be highly robust and reliable. With its high thermal conductivity SiC proves to be the material of choice for high temperature applications, e.g. in industrial or powertrain applications.

SiC can also withstand higher breakdown voltages, thus being suited for high voltage applications above 1200 V such as traction or rail inverters or for smart power grids. GaN and SiC are currently most widely used in a power range between 600 up to 1200 V for applications in industrial, automotive or consumer markets like motor control, inverters, data servers or power management. GaN is winning over Si-based solutions in low voltage applications below 600 V like power supply or chargers for consumer products, audio amplifiers or 48V board net conversion systems. If you need high switching frequency in your application, also GaN is the material of choice.

  • Smart phone fast chargers with GaN power transistors

    For smart fast chargers for consumer applications like smart phones, tablets or laptops, the use of GaN transistors became a game changer. More and more products with GaN inside can be found on the market and in 2020 first smart phone companies started selling their phones with GaN-based inbox chargers. Enabling high power density in lightweight and small format, fast switching and proven reliability, GaN is starting to become a standard for high-power (above 30 W) fast chargers.

  • Traction inverter for electric vehicle with SiC MOSFETs

    Trailblazer Tesla was the first car manufacturer to integrate a full SiC power module in the traction inverter of its Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle. Others will follow. Because SiC power modules can cure the so called “range anxiety”: Thanks to the high-voltage capabilities, smaller device geometries and higher efficiency of SiC power modules, car makers can finally design inverter systems that will allow vehicles to travel further, recharge faster and reduce the CO2 emission levels.

  • Telecommunication infrastructure and data centers with GaN

    The digitalization of our world drives the need for extensive data centers, which require huge amounts of electrical power, more and more space and clever cooling concepts. By using GaN transistors in the power factor conversion stage, power supply systems can be smaller, more efficient and will need less cooling. The cost savings due to increased power and storage density, smaller systems, lower power loss and lower energy consumption will help to manage existing server resources efficiently.

  • Electric vehicle fast charging station with SiC

    Ultra-fast level 4 electric vehicle charging stations with several hundred kW will reduce the time to full charge down to several minutes. 1200 V and 1700 V SiC MOSFETs and diodes support DC-link voltage above 800 V, significantly increasing the power density of the system. In AC/DC and DC/DC conversion more efficient topologies can be used that operate at higher efficiency, use fewer components, enable smaller and lighter systems, at lower cost and enabling bi-directional power transfer.

  • On-board charger – the battle field of SiC and GaN

    Batteries in electric vehicles often operate at 400 V and OBCs require therefore transistors with 650 V. In this operating voltage range both materials, SiC and GaN have their merits. OBC require fast switching, high power density and bi-directional charging, high efficiency and small footprint, which both materials can provide. The decision which material will be chosen for the OBC, therefore depends on other topics like technology roadmap, design knowledge, system architecture and finally pricing and availability.

  • Renewable energy conversion with SiC and GaN

    Inverters for renewable energies are a fast-growing market for wide-bandgap applications. Residential photovoltaic systems benefit from microinverters or power optimizers, where GaN can play a significant role to increase the efficiency, miniaturize the system and operate converters at higher frequency. SiC enables high-power inverters like central solar inverters or high-voltage inverters for wind mills. Those are lower in weight, more robust and highly efficient thus providing higher energy production and reducing the overall system cost.

    Solutions

    GaN and SiC are not Silicon – and it took quite some effort to learn how to handle SiC substrates and GaN wafers in an originally pure-play silicon foundry. A lot of obstacles needed to be overcome to process wafers that are thicker, transparent (SiC), with high bow, and more brittle than classic Si wafers. Dedicated equipment needed to be implemented, new processes installed, new recipes developed.

    Today X-FAB is providing a range of processing solutions to create power devices, that can be adapted to customer requirements. With X-FABs set of design rules, equipment and process capabilities, and the expertise we established over the years you will be able to create the best transistor or diode that will suit your needs.

    The wide-bandgap foundry model

    In a traditional CMOS foundry model with Open Platform Technologies the foundry provides modular process technologies and offer their service to customers that bring in their IC design, usually using a so called PDK (Process Development Kit) and known software like Cadence or Mentor. The foundry is responsible for developing the process and manufacture the wafer, a highly scalable business model

    Some partners however would like to implement not only their own design but also their own process IP and use the foundry as a pure manufacturing site, outsourcing their process - the so called “copy exact” approach.
    The wide-bandgap foundry model is based on an extensive cooperation between the device partner and X-FAB.

    In the early years of Silicon Carbide and GaN manufacturing, this was our business model as well, but with every customer and our own research and development, similar “best practice” processes crystalized for the same devices, and we decided to develop unit processes - called Standard Process Blocks - for common process steps. A Standard Process Block is a set of process steps for a specific part of the process flow that summarizes all necessary steps for one layer within the process flow, for example the gate formation or the ohmic contacts.

    In this way, our customers still bring in their unique technology flow, proprietary unit processes and unique device design, but benefit from the best development expertise and device knowledge of the expert teams in our factories.

    In addition, we keep track of the markets and lead several internal projects for the next-generation devices. We actively maintain a technology roadmap to develop processes that will be needed for future device technologies and implement them constantly into new process blocks for our customers convenience. This will keep you and your power devices competitive on the long run.

    Customer strengths: 

    • Device design and application knowledge
    • Device characterization
    • Device qualification and reliability
    • Device distribution
    • Packaging technology

    X-FAB strengths:

    • Process development
    • Standard process block modules
    • Process engineering expertise
    • Fast process implementation
    • Economies of scale
    • Manufacturing scalability, available capacity
    • Vendor relations
    • Automotive quality standards

    Our Commitment

    Fast time to market:

    Rely on the expertise of X-FAB! The Standard Process Blocks approach allows you to implement your process faster, with high yields and good performance. Our Onboarding Team will help to get a working device faster and shorten the learning cycles. Cycle time improvements, fast-track capabilities and our extensive prototyping support will get you sooner into the market.

    Best performance:

    Our current toolset enables the creation of discrete devices that match or exceed commercially available products. Our partnerships have demonstrated first-class SiC devices in the market: up 10kV capability device breakdown voltage, very low RDS(on) values (<10 mΩ) or the highest current ratings in the industry (>200 A Io) characterize some of the products made at X-FAB.

    Secure supply chain:

    X-FAB is a trusted partner for substrate and wafer suppliers in the wide-bandgap industry. We have concluded long-term agreements with several main suppliers for SiC substrates and GaN wafers, thus securing the supply even in high-demand situations. By adding in-house epitaxy capabilities for SiC, we are able to rectify potential supply issues even better.

    Leverage economy of scale:

    Benefit from collaborating with a foundry at the scale of silicon to get a production slot – even for small volumes. Get higher quality of the device – through external benchmarking, get better pricing – through larger overall volumes, get higher yields – through intensive processing knowledge. The manufacturing economies of scale and the ability to grow capacities fast will make X-FAB the foundry of choice.

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    Contact

    Agnes Jahnke

    Technical Marketing Manager
    GaN & SiC
    Agnes.Jahnke(at)xfab.com

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