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Siltronic jumps onboard imec’s GaN-on-silicon research train

The organisations will jointly develop technology for next-generation gallium nitride power semiconductors and LEDs on 200 mm diameter silicon substrates. They aim to enhance properties and reduced production costs.


Siltronic AG and the Belgian nano-electronics research institute imec have concluded an agreement to collaborate on the development of silicon wafers with a GaN layer.

This partnership will be part of imec’s GaN-on-silicon industrial affiliation program (IIAP) and aims to enable production of LEDs and next generation power semiconductors on 200 mm silicon wafers.

GaN is a very promising material; it combines superior electron mobility, high breakdown voltage and good thermal conductivity and is particularly suitable for optoelectronics and advanced power semiconductors. 

These are used, for example, in wind power turbines, solar power systems, electric vehicles and energy-saving kitchen appliances. In comparison with conventional, silicon-based applications, structures with GaN/(Al)GaN layers evidence a very efficient switching behaviour. 

However, GaN technology still needs further refinement to also be economically competitive. To achieve this, inexpensive and efficient production methods for epitaxial deposition of GaN/(Al)GaN structures on larger-diameter silicon wafers are very promising.

As a global provider of silicon wafers, Siltronic AG can draw on decades of experience in epitaxial deposition of materials on silicon substrates. Imec is a pioneer in the area of GaN deposition on silicon substrates with diameters of 2-6 inches. Economies of scale in the production of 200 mm wafers could significantly reduce the manufacturing costs for GaN-based LEDs and power semiconductors. 


In addition to Siltronic, other participants such as integrated device manufacturers, foundries, silicon compound producers and substrate manufacturers are also involved in this multinational research platform. Siltronic will actively use the facilities and technical resources of imec in Leuven, Belgium. 

This coordinated on-site approach enables inter-company collaboration between all involved partners, while at the same time providing very early access to process and equipment technology for the next generation of LEDs and power semiconductors.

“We are delighted to welcome Siltronic into our research network,” said Rudi Cartuyvels, Vice President R&D Business Lines at imec. “Siltronic has an enormous amount of experience in epitaxial deposition on silicon wafers that will increase the momentum of our GaN program to deliver a manufacturable GaN technology on 200 mm silicon wafers.”

“Siltronic is already the world market leader for silicon wafers used to manufacture discrete and integrated power devices,” points out Rüdiger Schmolke, Senior Vice President Technology at Siltronic. “This research project will help us to further consolidate our leadership position in this market.”
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