14-07-2020 | | By Robin Mitchell
II-VI announced that it has licensed SiC technology from GE to produce SiC devices. What applications does SiC benefit, who are II-VI, and why are they licensing the technology from GE?
Silicon Carbide is a crystalline semiconductor consisting of silicon and carbon that has a hexagonal structure. Compared to silicon, it has an energy bandgap approximately three times greater, approximately half the electron mobility, a breakdown field ten times greater, and three times the thermal conductivity. These features make SiC perfect for power applications being able to handle larger voltages, operate at higher temperatures, and provide more powerful MOSFETs for the same size. The surge of high power energy markets such as renewable energies, microgrids, electric vehicles, and DC power supplies is providing SiC with an opportunity to dominate the power market.
II-VI Incorporated are a global leader in engineered materials and optoelectronics. Having over 60 worldwide locations, II-VI Incorporated has over 22,000 employees, and its headquarters are found in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania. Markets that II-VI produced components and products for include communication systems, 5G, laser processing, high-power electronics, LiDAR systems, fluorescence imaging, genome sequencing, aerospace & defence, and consumer electronics including IoT and HMIs. An interesting fact about II-VI is where it get its name; II and VI refer to the group II and group VI elements of the periodic table and when these elements are combined, they produce infrared optical crystalline compounds.
GE have been involved with SiC technology since 1991 with the development of the first SiC photodiodes suitable for UV. A few years later and GE moved on to developing the worlds first SiC op-amp with high temperature operation. Since then, GE have moved to developed SiC devices suitable for automotive industries with AEC-Q100 certifications, avionics, and defence. GE SiC devices are designed to bring efficiency to power applications with an estimated 1~3% fuel saving when incorporated into aircraft and provide a whole range of power solutions from 1kW to 1MW. One industry that GE believes will greatly benefit from SiC device is hybrid aircraft as well as purely electric aircraft.
The importance of SiC technology cannot go understated which is why GE have been aggressively developing their SiC research. Being involved in the power industry, and the role that SiC will play in future technology, II-VI reached an agreement with GE to license its SiC technology for creating the next-generation SiC devices. II-VI, using the license, plans to scale up its capacity of 150mm SiC wafers while also scaling up its capabilities of 200mm wafers using a different technology. Currently, financial terms to the agreement have not been disclosed which makes it difficult to appreciate the impact of the SiC industry. However, assuming that GE understands the importance of SiC devices in future power applications then it can be expected that II-VI will be paying a decent price for the technology.
“We believe that SiC-based power electronics materials and components will become increasingly deployed in electrification systems including, for example, in electric vehicles, industrial infrastructure, and large data centers, and so we continue to invest to position II-VI in strategic points of the evolving supply chains to enable key customers. As such, we intend to remain focused on executing our recently announced plan to scale our capacity of 150 mm SiC materials by 5-10x while scaling volume production of a differentiated 200 mm materials technology to meet the anticipated growing demand over the next five years.”
- Dr. Vincent D. Mattera, Jr., Chief Executive Officer, II-VI Incorporated
SiC devices will most likely become the dominant technology in the power industry thanks to its high-temperature capabilities, high-voltage operation, and low on-resistance. II-VI investing in SiC technology via licensing from GE shows this importance as II-VI, who already perform their own research, have determined that it is simpler to use pre-existing technology. This also demonstrates II-VI’s desire to get devices into the SiC market quickly utilising proven technology that has been in development since 1991 by an industry leader in the field.