Power Semiconductors Weekly+ Vol. 01

UK Gives Nod to Chinese Takeover of Newport Wafer Fab

A huge political row has broken out in the U.K. about the ongoing plans to sell Newport Wafer Fab, one of the very few plants left in the country still making semiconductors, to a Dutch subsidiary of Chinese group Wingtech.

It has emerged that the government had approved the sale, despite a long-running review of the national security interests involved in the proposed deal, said to be worth about £63 million (about €75 million).

Back in July 2021, the U.K. government had instructed the National Security Adviser, Sir Stephen Lovegrove, to review the deal. It has emerged this week that Sir Lovegrove had concluded there were not sufficient security concerns to block the deal.

But many in the government and the opposition Labour party have suggested the review had used too narrow a definition of ‘national security’.

Perhaps the strongest criticism came from Ton Tugenhadt, chairman of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, who suggested: “It is not clear why we have not used our new powers under the National Security and Investment Act, to review the takeover of one our leading compound semiconductor plants.” The Act came into force this January and could have allowed a different outcome.

Tugenhadt noted that so few details had been provided to the committee he chairs, that he doubted a review had even taken place.

He added: “This is an area where China is sinking billions to compete. The government has no clear strategy to protect what is left of our semiconductor industry.”

And a former U.K. Prime Minister, Iain Duncan-Smith, chimed in, warning that “if the government goes down this road, it will become yet another step in the pathetic process in appeasing China who right now is supporting Russia and plans to propose a direct threat to the West’s access to microchips and other key components for electronic equipment.”

From the other side of the political spectrum, Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, the science and civil service union, said: “This represents a further blow to British leadership in this critical high-tech industry. If the government is serious about building a high-productivity, high-wage economy, we need a new strategy to protect and expand the U.K.’s long-term capability in the semiconductor industry.”

Nexperia is an Amsterdam, Holland-based subsidiary of Wingtech —formerly owned by NXP Semiconductors— widely believed to be backed by the Chinese Communist Party. It bought the Welsh semis group last spring, and there were immediate calls for a review of the deal, which has been prolonged to the present time. The purchase was sweetened by a £17 million (€20 million) repayment of a loan owed to the Welsh government.

Nexperia was a key customer of devices from the Newport plant.

The plant currently employs about 450 people. It was originally set up in 1982 by Inmos, a government backed venture and pioneer in U.K. semis manufacturing that initially made its own ICs but subsequently turned into a foundry with a 200mm fab and a current capacity of some 3200, 0.18 micrometre wafer starts a month. For a while, it was owned by Thorn-EMI, but then acquired by STMicroelectronics, which closed the plant in 1983.

Original – EE Times

Odyssey Semiconductor Appoints Mark Davidson as Chief Executive Officer

Odyssey Semiconductor Technologies, Inc., a semiconductor device company developing innovative high-voltage, vertical power switching components based on proprietary Gallium Nitride (“GaN”) processing technology, announced Mark Davidson joined the Company as its new chief executive officer and member of the board of directors on April 18, 2022. He succeeds Rick Brown, the Company’s co-founder, who served as interim CEO since September 2021. Mr. Brown will continue as the Company’s CTO and Board member.

Board and Management Commentary

“Mark is known for his versatility to transform businesses into highly successful operations – having spent nearly twenty years working in Silicon Valley,” said Rick Brown, co-founder, CTO, and Board member. “When I met Mark, I knew that he was the right leader for us to realize the vision we had when Odyssey was founded and that his leadership and experience will help our company achieve its full potential.”

“Mark joins Odyssey at an exciting time for the Company,” said John Edmunds, Chairman of the Board. “Odyssey is on-track to deliver 1200 V vertical GaN FETs in 2022 for a handful of customers who have already requested engineering samples.”

“I am thrilled to be joining Odyssey at such an important time for the Company. I am excited to work closely with the Board of Directors and passionate employees as we grow and create value for our customers and shareholders,” said Mark Davidson. “The time for GaN is now, and we are confident that Odyssey’s approach with vertical GaN will be appreciated and widely adopted by the market.”

About Mark Davidson

Mr. Davidson comes to Odyssey as an experienced growth leader. Before joining Odyssey, Davidson served as the Chief Revenue Officer of DreamVu where he led commercialization and spearheaded revenue generation from scratch. He led the global sales expansion through his vast knowledge of global markets.

Prior to DreamVu, Mr. Davidson served as Chief Executive Officer of Range Networks, where he pivoted the company’s business model based on Range Networks’ technology leadership and the market opportunity. The pivot not only resulted in a surge in revenue and profitability, but it ultimately led Range Networks to be acquired by an exciting and fast-growing company.

Mark also brings enormous success and experience in the power semiconductor space. He has previously served as Intel Corporation’s (through Intel’s acquisition of Altera Corporation) Vice President/General Manager, Global Power Products Business Organization, where he directed the transformation of a start-up company into a hyper-growth enterprise. Additionally, he has served as Texas Instruments’ Regional Sales and Applications Engineering Director, National Semiconductor’s Marketing Director/Product Line Director, Visteon Corporation’s Australian Customer Liaison Engineer, and Ford Motor Company’s Product Design Engineer. He holds a Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

Mr. Davidson will operate from Odyssey’s Ithaca, New York facility, which is the location of the Company’s global headquarters and its wafer fabrication facility.

Original – Odyssey Semiconductor Technologies

Power SiC Ecosystem Is Reshaped by Vertical Integration

SiC market players are working hard to generate more revenue in this multi-billion-dollar business.

Companies including STMicroelectronics, Wolfspeed, onsemi, and Infineon Technologies, for example, announced their “billion-dollar revenue” objectives. Despite the different paths chosen by each player, the similarity of business model among them can be clearly identified.

The IDM – integrated device manufacturer – business model is the one chosen by leading players to supply devices, especially power modules. This business model represents a higher dollar value to grow the revenue.

STMicroelectronics is the leading SiC company, as their modules have been used in the Tesla Model 3 for some years. Their activities are not only at the device level; and indeed, STMicroelectronics demonstrated their in-house 8” SiC wafer in 2021.

Another leading SiC company, onsemi, took a significant step in 2021 by acquiring GT Advanced Technologies, a SiC boule supplier. Today, onsemi is working on the expansion of its SiC wafer capacity. Its goal is to support its rapidly growing SiC business.

Speaking of the leading company in global power electronics, Infineon Technologies delivered an impressive 126% growth of their SiC device business in 2021, outperforming the 57% average growth rate. The design-win of the 800V Hyundai Ioniq5 developed by Infineon Technologies pushed them into the fast lane with their solid base of industrial applications.

Wolfspeed also showed its determination to focus its activities on the SiC business. The company decided on a significant re-organization a few years ago by selling its LED business and expanding its power device business. With its SiC wafer leadership, Wolfspeed has now qualified its 8” fab. The company is moving forward and has raised its growth.

Meanwhile, ROHM is expanding capacity in both devices and wafers following its acquisition of SiCrystal a decade ago to integrate vertically. And II-VI shared their long-term view by demonstrating an automotive-qualified 1200V device and an extended partnership with General Electric.

The SiC ecosystem has been reshaped by these major players in the past years.  According to Yole, two main trends impact its supply chain: vertical integration of wafer manufacturing and module packaging to gain more revenues in the coming years. In this context, end-system companies, for example, automotive OEMs, are adopting SiC quicker and more flexibly to manage the supply with multiple wafer suppliers in the market.

Original – i-Micronews

Heraeus Electronics Introduces Cost Efficient, Highly Reliable Ag-free AMB Solution for High Powered Electronics

In recent years, the demand for high powered electronics has grown exponentially. With rapid growth in electric/hybrid vehicles, we are seeing that more electronics and power modules are needed to keep up with demand. However, EV/Hybrid vehicles are not the only applications driving this increased demand. Other major applications, such as rail traction, wind turbines, photovoltaic inverters and motor drives are also driving the increased demand. These applications are extremely demanding and are operating at high voltage and high current densities that must cope with high temperatures and harsh conditions. One of the key components for a highly reliable power module is an extremely reliable metal ceramic substrate. Substrate materials for these applications must have outstanding characteristics in terms of electrical, thermal, insulation, and mechanical performance during operation. To have a reliable system in place you need to have a compatible interconnection and assembly materials like solder paste, sinter paste, and wire bonding, to name a few.

Due to cost efficiency, Al2O3 based metal ceramic substrates, like direct copper bonded substrates are often used for power module manufacturing. Although, it is a cheaper solution, it is not always the best for certain applications, especially for high power modules. Al2O3 based ceramic substrates struggle to harness the full power of wide band gap semiconductors. In this instance, a superior substrate is needed. Silicon nitride (Si3N4) based metal ceramic substrates have been used in recent years for power module assembly. Its superior mechanical properties, such as bending strength, fracture toughness and thermal conductivity makes Si3N4 an attractive solution for a highly reliable, high power density module base. Today Si3N4 substrates are manufactured using active metal brazing (AMB) technology, which uses Ag-filled and titanium containing brazing pastes. Precious metal and complex processing steps drive the prices up for AMB substrates making it a more expensive option.

Heraeus Electronics has developed a solution that solves the cost and performance roadblocks previously described. It is a cost efficient, highly reliable Ag-free AMB copper bonding technology for joining nitride-based ceramics with copper foils. The material was developed using a technique where there is no requirement for using expensive vacuum-based brazing and longer process time. The product is named: Condura®.ultra, a Si3N4 Ag free AMB substrate.

Key Features

  • Outstanding reliability and processing (eg. Sintering, bonding, soldering…)
  • Cost efficient Si3N4 metal ceramic substrate
  • Enables thick Cu layers
  • Thinner ceramics vs. AIN possible for equal thermal resistance
  • Thermal conductivity of Si3N4 ceramic: > 80 W/m∙K and > 60 W/m∙K

Condura®.ultra is a cost-efficient Ag free AMB bonding technology for metal ceramic substrates that are suitable for high end applications. The cost reduction of Condura®.ultra is achieved by using a silver-free brazing technology combined with an efficient brazing process.

Original – ChargedEVs

Navitas and PowerAmerica Accelerate Next-Gen Semiconductors to “Electrify our World™”

Navitas Semiconductor, the industry-leader in gallium nitride (GaN) power integrated circuits (ICs), has announced its membership of PowerAmerica, the consortium working to accelerate the adoption of next generation GaN and silicon carbide (SiC) power electronics.

Established in 2014, PowerAmerica brings together the brightest minds and leading innovators in the world of wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductors. As a member of PowerAmerica, Navitas will provide input into initiatives to help companies that use power semiconductors to upgrade beyond legacy silicon, and access resources and relationships contributing to business growth.

GaN is a next-generation, WBG technology that runs up to 20x faster than legacy silicon and enables up to 3x more power, 40% energy savings and 3x faster charging in half the size and weight. Navitas’ GaNFast™ power ICs integrate GaN power and drive plus sensing, protection and control to deliver simple, small, fast and efficient power conversion performance. With adoption by customers including Samsung, Dell, Xiaomi, Lenovo and LG, this technology is now available with a 20-year limited warranty – a critical accelerator for GaN’s adoption into higher-power data center, solar and EV markets.

“The upgrade from legacy silicon to WBG semiconductors is critical to supporting environmental goals by dramatically reducing power consumption and accelerating the adoption of sustainable technologies,” said Dan Kinzer, Navitas’ COO/CTO and co-founder. “The consortium’s membership network of entrepreneurs, technologists and academic partners is helping to drive this revolution and we are excited to be part of this increasingly-important eco-system.”

Navitas Sr Director of Marketing, Llew Vaughan-Edmunds, is currently the chairman of PowerAmerica and will lead the MAC meeting during the PowerAmerica 2022 Summer Workshop on NC State Campus in Raleigh, NC on August 2nd. Navitas will host a technology seminar at the workshop to introduce leading-edge GaNFast power ICs with GaNSense™ technology, and stress high-quality, high-capacity manufacturing with over 40,000,000 units shipped and zero reported GaN-related field failures.

Professor Victor Veliadis, PowerAmerica’s Executive Director and CTO, adds: “With its proven integrated-GaN technology and its focus on applications that range from consumer electronics through electric vehicles to data centers and solar power, Navitas brings important technology and solutions knowledge to the PowerAmerica eco-system. We look forward to working with the company’s leadership and engineering teams in support of our objective to accelerate the next generation of power electronics.”

Original – Navitas Semiconductor

PM Modi to Inaugurate First Semicon India Conference

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate the first Semicon India Conference in Bengaluru on April 29, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar has said.

The Semicon India Programme of the Centre was announced in December last year. The initiative aims to implement various measures to set up greenfield semiconductor and display fabrication plants, and develop research, development and design capabilities, to take India on a global scale and reduce its import dependencies.

Semicon India 2022, will be held over three days and will deliberate on ways to make India a leader in electronics manufacturing, semiconductor design, manufacturing, and innovation.

Speaking about the India Semicon Mission, Chandrasekhar said that PM Modi’s vision is to make India a significant player in the global semiconductor value chain. “For the first time in the last 75 years, rapid decisive strides have been made in this space,” he said.

“Semicon India 2022 conference will attract the best minds from across the world from the semiconductor industry, research and academia and will act as a big step in fulfilling the PM’s vision of making India a global hub for electronics manufacturing and the semiconductor industry,” a government statement read.

Micron CEO Sanjay Mehrotra, Cadence CEO Anirudh Devgan, Indo-Us venture partners Founder Vinod Dham, SEMI President Ajit Manocha, Emeritus Stanford Professor Arogyaswami Paulraj are expected to participate in the event.

Original – IndiaToday

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