7 February 2018
MACOM and ST to develop GaN-on-Si manufacturing for mainstream RF applications
© Semiconductor Today Magazine / Juno PublishiPicture: Disco’s DAL7440 KABRA laser saw.
MACOM Technology Solutions Holdings Inc of Lowell, MA, USA (which makes semiconductors, components and subassemblies for RF, microwave, millimeter-wave and lightwave applications) and STMicroelectronics of Geneva, Switzerland have agreed to develop gallium nitride on silicon (GaN-on-Si) wafers to be manufactured by ST for MACOM’s use across an array of RF applications.
While expanding MACOM’s source of supply, the agreement also grants to ST the right to manufacture and sell its own GaN-on-Si products in RF markets outside of mobile phone, wireless base-station and related commercial telecom infrastructure applications.
MACOM hence expects to access increased silicon wafer manufacturing capacity and improved cost structure, aiming to displace incumbent silicon LDMOS and accelerate the adoption of GaN-on-Si in mainstream markets. ST and MACOM have been working together for several years to bring GaN-on-Si production up in ST’s CMOS wafer fab. Sample production from ST is expected to begin this year.
“To date, MACOM has refined and proven the merits of GaN-on-silicon using rather modest compound semiconductor factories, replicating and even exceeding the RF performance and reliability of expensive GaN-on-SiC alternative technology,” says MACOM’s president & CEO John Croteau. “We expect this collaboration with ST to bring those GaN innovations to bear in a silicon supply chain that can ultimately service the most demanding customers and applications,” he adds.
“ST’s scale and operational excellence in silicon wafer manufacturing aims to unlock the potential to drive new RF power applications for MACOM and ST as it delivers the economic breakthroughs necessary to expand the market for GaN-on-silicon,” says Marco Monti, president of the Automotive and Discrete Product Group at STMicroelectronics. “While expanding the opportunities for existing RF applications is appealing, we’re even more excited about using GaN-on-silicon in new RF energy applications, especially in automotive applications, such as plasma ignition for more efficient combustion in conventional engines, and in RF lighting applications, for more efficient and longer-lasting lighting systems,” he adds.
“Once the $0.04/watt barrier for high-power RF semiconductor devices is crossed, significant opportunities for the RF energy market may open up,” believes Eric Higham, director of the Advanced Semiconductor Applications Service at market research firm Strategy Analytics. “Potential RF energy device shipments could be in the hundreds of millions for applications including commercial microwave cooking, automotive lighting and ignition, and plasma lighting, with sales reaching into the billions of dollars.”