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first and euRopEAn siC eigTh Inches pilOt liNe

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - REACTION (first and euRopEAn siC eigTh Inches pilOt liNe)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-02-28

REACTION is pushing through the first worldwide 200mm Silicon Carbide (SiC) Pilot Line Facility for Power technology. This will enable the European industry to set the world reference of innovative and competitive solutions for critical societal challenges, like Energy saving and CO2 Reduction (ref. to COP21 Agreement), as well as Sustainable Environment through electric mobility, power conversion efficiency and Smart Production.
The project is committed to challenge the following objectives:
● Development and demonstration of the first WW 200mm SiC advanced manufacturing facility addressing a multi/cross-capability. This cross-capability project leverages the presence of all actors along its value chain and creates the adequate critical mass to foster the vital innovation that will contribute to the overall goals of ECSEL.
● Improvement in productivity, competitiveness and affordability of next generation of SiC devices and system solutions starting from 6” substrates and moving forward 8” substrates.

-Pilot Line
The Pilot Line will be based on three main pillars:
• Continuous technological innovation on SiC Power devices facing with the more and more increasing demand from market applications;
• Industrial policy focused on high quality and mass SiC production’s cost reduction and optimization;
• Set the ground for future 8” WW wafer upgrade of “More than Moore” disruptive technologies (e.g. advanced SiC manufacturing, now at 150mm).

-Target characteristics of the fisrt 8” SiC Pilot Line
The 200mm SiC Pilot Line will be located in the ST wafer fab of Catania (Italy), and it will share facilities with the current. There will be very tough activities on hook-up and fit up issues due to the fact the new Pilot SiC Line requirements, in terms of facilities, are very different from the pure Silicon one; e.g. Electricals connections, New Gas Panel realization, New Anti-vibration platform, Cleanroom feature re-industrialization in terms of Humidity & Air filters. This mainly because on the first project phase the bridge equipment (6” to 8”)
In this 1st period time frame the activities were mainly focused on deepening the requirements and the "definition of specifications" on one side, and on developing 8” substrates and key equipment on the other side: two essential steps for the next research periods.
In particular in the first period not all the WPs mainly started: as foreseen, the Substrates & Equipment Development (WP1) together with the Management activities (WP7) fully started, and just partially the Application/Demonstrator (WP4&5) plus the Dissemination one (WP6).
The focus had been put both: on the substrates first mechanical sample developing and on main final demonstrators specifications at any level of the value chain: substrates, equipment, devices and applications

According to this, 8 inches SiC "mechanical" wafers are already at Consortium disposal (this was a fundamental milestone achieved) and are now under mechanical preliminary evaluation. Starting from October 2019 on they will be also shipped to WP1 partners for they mechanical handling/equipment tests.
In terms of equipment, HQ-D could make a big step forward in developing an improved microwave distribution unit for their plasma oxidation and trench smoothing equipment, fulfilling the tight requirements of an 8" SiC production line, thus enabling the development of alternative low temperature oxidation of SiC, as well as providing a new solution for surface smoothing by plasma application.
To date, as the WW state of the art, it is not clear what will be the mechanical behavior of the SiC 8 inches wafers as a result of the numerous process steps, deposition and heat treatment. It is still necessary to verify the work-ability of wafers in some critical steps (e.g. the photo-lithography phases). The evaluation of bow, warpage and flatness is and will be surely essential for the characterization of SiC 8 inches wafers and provide clear guidance on how to integrate all process steps. This characterization will become crucial after the thinning of the same wafers, because as is known, the warping is indirectly proportional to the wafers thickness. 8 inches SiC "mechanical" wafers were already produced and provided to REACTION Consortium by II-VI partner and it represents a relevant milestone already reached.
This is a tremendous leap in Silicon Carbide technology. If we consider that all REACTION manufacturing partners represent the engine that drives the economic growth and development of their countries of origin thanks to their ability to produce wealth and employment, making associated industries and services flourish, this big leap in technology will sure contribute to the financial, economic and social stability of their countries leading an undoubted social impact as consequences of the final REACTION results.
The improvement of SiC-MOSFET technology lays both in the efficiency and reliability issues. REACTION innovative and cost competitive technology will address, behind the high end application basically focused on the automotive arena and high efficiency power supply, the mass-market applications like smart energy and smart mobility, as well as all the rest of industrial markets. It will allow to meet the more and more increasing demanding requirements, quality and cost constraint for next generation of power electronics.
REACTION has already had a terrific potential impact on the semiconductors market, on the continental value-chain of system applications as well as on the European semiconductors manufacturing strength. This will include the IP assets gained during the build-up phase, with a positive fall-out on business and job hiring, differentiating from counterpart’s competition in Asia and USA.
This because the actual SiC state of the art is at 6" level, an american company in the 2019 (CREE) announced that it will be investing approximately $1 billion in construction, equipment and other related costs for the New York fab. New York state will provide a $500 million grant from Empire State Development and Cree will be eligible for additional local incentives and abatements as well as equipment and tooling from SUN* (State University of New York).
It demonstrates that REACTION, written and proposed in the 2017 has already changed SiC industry scenario.
Unfortunately USA (New York State) grant ($500 millions) is so far from our European funding level (one magnitude order less) but REACTION Consortium is still committed to deliver its goals.
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200mm SiC wafers in a cassette