Power Semiconductors Weekly Vol. 95
DISCO Corporation, a semiconductor manufacturing equipment manufacturer has developed two types of grinding wheels, the Poligrind PW21 Series for Si wafers including memory ICs and logic ICs, and the GFSC Series for SiC wafers.
- Poligrind PW21 Series: Grinding Wheels for Si Wafer Thinning
The markets for logic ICs such as CPU and GPU, and memory ICs such as NAND flash memory and DRAM are forecast to continue to grow in the future with a focus on investment in data centres. These semiconductor devices achieve a high degree of integration as the die are laminated after thinning and singulation. In wafer thinning for high-end products, as they are made ultrathin, polishing is performed after grinding to remove the damage from the grinding process.
However, in wafer thinning for mid-range products, a medium level of thinning is performed using only the grinding process. For this processing application, DISCO has been providing the PW06 Series, Poligrind wheels that cause less grinding damage, and now DISCO has newly developed its successor product, the PW21 Series.
- GFSC Series: Grinding wheels for SiC Wafers
Carbon neutrality is now a pressing social issue, and energy saving is required in every situation. In response to this issue, conversion between alternate and direct current, voltage, and frequency is necessary to achieve high-efficiency power control, and power semiconductors are utilized for this. In particular, energy saving directly affects the cruising range of EVs (electric vehicles), and thus demands for high-efficiency power semiconductors are increasing.
Compared to Si (silicon), which has been used thus far, SiC (silicon carbide) enables high-temperature operation and has a low resistivity. Therefore, it is rapidly being adopted in the manufacturing of power semiconductors. SiC is physically tough and is also the second hardest crystal next to diamond, making high quality, stable processing difficult. Therefore, in order to process SiC, there were needs for grinding wheels that have a high grinding performance.
DISCO Corporation, a semiconductor manufacturing equipment manufacturer has developed DFG8541, a fully automatic grinder that can process Si (silicon) and SiC (silicon carbide) wafers up to a maximum size of ø8 inches.
In response to demands for grinding wafers smaller than ø8 inches in the semiconductor market, DISCO has been providing DFG8540, a fully automatic grinder. DFG8540 has been shipped to many device manufacturers and electric component manufacturers as a standard dual-axis grinder.
On the other hand, two decades have passed since the initial release of DFG8540, and customers’ processing targets have expanded from not only Si, but also to composite semiconductors including SiC. In addition, with growing needs for wafer thinning along with the development of high-density packaging technologies, maintaining higher cleanliness inside the equipment is now required in order to reduce breakage risks caused due to the adherence of particles during the processing, transferring, and cleaning processes.
In light of this, DISCO has developed DFG8541, the successor equipment to DFG8540, aiming for stable thinning while maintaining high cleanliness as well as improved operability and productivity. By making a high torque spindle an option, it is possible to support difficult-to-process materials that have high rigidity such as SiC, responding to the SiC power semiconductor manufacturing needs that have been growing due to the global movement toward decarbonization.
The European collaboration project Power2Power has been successfully completed. Over the past three years, 43 partners from industry and research jointly developed novel power semiconductors with higher power density and energy efficiency. Power semiconductors are necessary in all stages of energy conversion: in generation, transmission, and use of electrical current. More efficient semiconductors make a significant contribution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions despite rising global energy demand. Universities, research institutes, small and medium-sized enterprises and international corporations participated in this project which was coordinated by Infineon Technologies Dresden GmbH & Co. KG.
“Climate change is the great challenge of our time,” says Constanze Hufenbecher, Infineon Technologies AG Management Board member and Chief Digital Transformation Officer. “Decarbonization is the only way to limit global warming and preserve the livelihood of future generations. We have to transform our energy system along the entire energy chain if we are to achieve global climate targets. We have to rigorously make use of all three available levers: intensifying clean energy generation, significantly increasing energy efficiency and electrifying application areas that have in the past been dominated by fossil fuels.”
The comprehensive efforts of Power2Power make it possible to produce smart power electronics in order to steer the market towards energy-efficient applications. This is an important contribution to meeting the European Union’s carbon dioxide reduction goals. The collaborative project’s strong partnerships and investments in innovation made a strong contribution to creating and securing highly qualified jobs and consequently to support the German Federal Government’s High-Tech Strategy 2025.
Power2Power achieved significantly improved power semiconductor solutions for high voltages. These silicon-based IGBT solutions are also characterized by reliability and robustness, which are especially important in transport and (heavy) industrial applications, for example in battery systems and chargers for electric vehicles and high-speed drives, in power supply solutions for welding technology and for renewable energy storage in the grid.
In the area of electro-mobility in particular, solutions developed by the Power2Power consortium enable a significant reduction in energy consumption and energy conversion with efficiencies of over 98 percent for converters and drive trains in electric vehicles. The project’s results have also successfully shown that the lifetime of electric vehicle chargers can be extended by 1.5 times, and that the cost of inverters for trains can be reduced by 30 percent. The European Union funded the collaboration as part of the ECSEL program (Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership). In the meantime, the new Key Digital Technologies (KDT) Joint Undertaking has taken over the ongoing activities of the ECSEL program.
“Power electronics is one of the most important key industries in Europe and will be of central importance if we in Europe are to achieve our climate goals,” says Yves Gigase, Acting Executive Director of the KDT Joint Undertaking. “In the collaborative Power2Power project, the 43 consortium partners successfully developed novel solutions that will sustainably strengthen the competitiveness of the European microelectronics industry and increase its manufacturing share in the global market. The project made significant improvements in particular in technology, resulting among other things in greater reliability. It also set up a pilot line for the future large series volume production of IGBT chips.”
The volume of the Power2Power project totaled 74 million euros. Funding from Germany was provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and from the two German states Saxony and Thuringia. The partners from the other seven countries were also sponsored by their respective national authorities.
A detailed overview including project partners, publications and results can be found at www.power2power.eu. In the next project, PowerizeD, which will start as early as January, a consortium of 62 partners will work on the digitalization of power electronics applications within key technology value chains. Coordinated by Infineon, collaboration among European regions and supply chain partners will again play a central role in this project. PowerizeD is the next step towards securing European leadership in significant economic and technological fields.
TI’s company’s latest 300-millimeter wafer fab in Lehi, Utah, LFAB, has started production for analog and embedded products roughly one year after Texas Instruments’ purchase of the facility.
“This is an exciting time for the Lehi team as we expand our manufacturing operations to provide the capacity our customers will need for decades to come,” said Kyle Flessner, senior vice president, Technology and Manufacturing Group. “This achievement is part of our long-term capacity investments and further solidifies our commitment to expand internal manufacturing capacity to support the future growth of semiconductors in electronics.”
The addition of LFAB to TI’s manufacturing operations provides increased 300-mm capacity to support the continued growth of semiconductors in electronics. The fab has more than 275,000 square feet of clean room space, and the highly advanced facility includes seven miles of overhead delivery systems that quickly transport wafers through the fab. Total investment in the Lehi fab will be about $3 billion to $4 billion over time, which will directly benefit the state and local economy.
LFAB has the capability to support 65-nanometer and 45-nanometer technologies with the ability to go beyond those nodes as required and has optimal process technology to produce complex devices like embedded processing chips. At full production, LFAB will manufacture tens of millions of chips daily that will go into electronics everywhere – from renewable energy sources to electric vehicles to space telescopes.
“Production start in LFAB is an important milestone and I am proud of the progress the teams have made in a short time,” said Mohammad Yunus, senior vice president, Manufacturing Operations. “This is a testament to the strong collaboration and commitment from our Lehi and Dallas teams.”
Jingneng Microelectronics, the chip unit affiliated with private automaker Geely Holding Group’s tech subsidiary, has closed its Pre-A fundraiser without specifying the amount raised.
Headed by venture capital firm Walden International, Vision Knight Capital, Gaorong Capital, and Volfone Enterprises also took part in the financing round. The new funding will be used in the research and development of power semiconductor modules, production line building, and the hiring of technical staff.
Founded in June 2022, Jingneng Microelectronics has already developed various products such as automotive-grade insulated gate bipolar transistors and silicon-carbide devices, said Chief Executive Pan Yunbin, adding that many of its products will be installed in vehicles next year. The IGBTs and silicon-carbide power modules are core components for new energy vehicles and the photovoltaic industry, Pan noted.
All investors that took part in the funding round have strategic synergy with Jingneng Microelectronics, said Xu Zhihao, chief executive of Geely Technology Group, adding that the group has positioned itself to serve the NEV sector and has invested in mastering core technologies.
Blocked by the British government from acquiring Newport Wafer Fab — Britain’s largest chip factory — Nexperia has solicited the help of US law firm Akin Gump in the hopes of overturning the ban.
The hire comes just weeks after the UK secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Grant Shapps unwound the deal on national security grounds. Nexperia is a Netherlands-based company that was acquired in 2018 by China-based Wingtech Technology. It’s that Chinese connection and potential future use of the site that has His Majesty’s government up in arms.
Nexperia’s acquisition of the Newport Wafer Fab in 2021 for £63 million ($76 million) drew the attention of many within the British government — including then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson — who expressed national security concerns and called for a probe. But the investigation amounted to nothing.
That didn’t stop the UK government from intervening in the sale. A later assessment under the National Security and Investment Act concluded with Shapps ordering Nexperia to sell at least 86 percent of its stake in the Newport facility in Wales.
The business secretary said he was concerned that the Newport fab, which chiefly makes power chips using older process nodes, could be upgraded to produce moderately more complex and capable components, such as those involving compound semiconductor materials like gallium nitride. The factory typically manufactures 32,000 silicon wafers of chips a month.
The decision drew condemnation from Nexperia execs who expressed frustration that the deal was killed after passing “two previous security reviews,” and pledged to challenge the order and “do everything possible to keep the factory and protect its employees in South Wales.”
Akin Gump, a law firm well known for representing US politicians in high-profile cases — including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, has been hired to represent Nexperia’s interests in a judicial review of the situation by the High Court of England and Wales.
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