9 September 2022
Wolfspeed to build largest SiC materials plant in Chatham County, North Carolina
Wolfspeed Inc (formerly Cree Inc) of Durham, NC, USA is to build a new multi-billion-dollar materials manufacturing facility in Chatham County, North Carolina (strategically near its existing Durham materials factory). The investment should generate a more than tenfold increase from Wolfspeed’s existing silicon carbide (SiC) production capacity in Durham, supporting its long-term growth strategy, accelerating the adoption of silicon carbide across a wide array of end-markets.
“Wolfspeed is the industry leader in supplying the materials required to meet the accelerating demand for next-generation semiconductors and creating a more sustainable future for all,” claims Wolfspeed’s president & CEO Gregg Lowe. “Demand for our products continues to grow at a rapid pace, and the industry continues to be supply constrained. Expanding our materials production will further our market leadership and allow us to better serve the growing needs of our customers,” he adds. “We are particularly excited and proud to not only expand Wolfspeed’s footprint in our home state of North Carolina, but also further our relationship with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University to nurture our best-in-class talent pool.”
The facility will primarily produce 200mm silicon carbide wafers, which are 1.7x larger than 150mm wafers, translating into more chips per wafer and, ultimately, lower device costs. These wafers will be used to supply Wolfspeed’s Mohawk Valley Fab, which opened in April as the world’s first, largest and only fully automated 200mm silicon carbide fabrication facility.
Phase one construction should be completed in 2024 and cost about $1.3bn. Between 2024 and the end of the decade, the firm will add extra capacity as needed, eventually occupying more than 1 million square feet on the 445-acre site.
State and local funding, including a Job Development Investment Grant from the North Carolina Department of Commerce, will support the development of the facility’s first phase and represents an approximately $1bn incentive package from the State, County and local governments. In addition, the firm hopes to apply for and obtain federal funding from the CHIPS and Science Act to accelerate the construction and build-out of the facility. Over the next eight years, the company intends to continue to invest, looking to create about 1800 jobs.
“Wolfspeed’s decision further validates North Carolina as the epicenter of clean energy,” says North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. “This is another milestone in our drive toward a clean energy economy as it will boost electric vehicle manufacturing and offshore wind while fighting climate change.”
The company’s talent development strategy is complemented by its continued partnership with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T). In 2020, Wolfspeed committed $4m over five years to the HBCU – at the time, the single largest donation in the university’s history, to create the Wolfspeed Endowed Scholars Program. The two entities aim to establish comprehensive education and training curricula and cutting-edge research and innovation programs. This partnership will open up opportunities for undergraduate and graduate credentials in silicon carbide manufacturing, as well as training and career advancement programs for existing semiconductor manufacturing workers.
“North Carolina A&T is proud to partner with Wolfspeed to provide new opportunities to pursue the next generation of careers in the green economy, drive innovation and explore new possibilities,” says N.C. A&T chancellor Harold L. Martin senior. “Throughout our rich history as a doctoral, land-grant university and the largest historically Black university in the country, we have believed in the power of our students to change the world. Our expanded partnership with Wolfspeed will allow us to change the world together.”