Microsemi and SemiSouth Laboratories, a privately held company specializing in SiC material and device fabrication, have entered into an agreement which provides for cooperation between the two companies in the area of silicon-carbide (SiC) epitaxy-wafer (epi-wafer) supply. According to Marc Vandenberg, director of operations for Microsemi’s power products group, this partnership is specifically focused on SiC epi-wafer supply and quality improvement.
There was no formal competition for selecting a company to supply Microsemi with SiC epi wafers. Rather, the agreement came about because of long-term personal relationships between involved parties at Microsemi and SemiSouth, as well as a mutual confidence between the two companies in their respective capabilities, states Vandenberg.
Russell Crecraft, vice president and general manager for Microsemi’s power products group, states, "We are pleased to enter into a closer working relationship with SemiSouth. Microsemi's requirements for SiC wafers will grow in the future and we expect that this agreement will help SemiSouth's talented team of engineers to continue their progress toward highly manufacturable silicon-carbide epitaxy."
SemiSouth's president, Jeff Casady states, "At SemiSouth, our long-term goals have always been to enable the SiC power device market through high-quality SiC epitaxy wafers and devices. We are excited to be able to work with Microsemi by supplying them epitaxy wafer products needed for their product goals. Microsemi has a great track record of supplying high performance power device products, and this agreement represents a great step forward for the SiC power electronics market."
The SiC wafers from SemiSouth will be used for a variety of products under development at Microsemi. These, in turn, could eventually be used in larger systems, such as high-power PoE equipment, according to Vandenberg.
In addition to the supply of SiC epi-wafers, the agreement also includes certain technical exchanges between the two companies. For example, Mike Mazzola, vice president of technology for SemiSouth, states that Microsemi and SemiSouth collarborate on other government-sponsored research and development projects involving SemiSouth's VJFET technology and Microsemi's packaging technology. Mazzola also states that Microsemi is at liberty to use the wafers from SemiSouth for applications other than power devices.
However, Vandenberg states that at present, Microsemi projects based on the supplied SiC epi-wafers will not be leveraging SemiSouth's experience in SiC JFETs. Instead, these wafers will be used to support Microsemi's development of high-power RF and high-power switching devices. Furthermore, applications for SiC technology outside this range (for example, optical sensing) are not presently on Microsemi's roadmap.
Due to its ability to operate at high temperatures, SiC technology has the potential to operate at significantly higher power levels than conventional silicon devices. Developers of SiC technology, such as Microsemi and SemiSouth, seek to realize its full potential for power electronics applications in both discrete devices and modules.