The COVID 19 pandemic has left global supply chains in tatters. Automotive manufacturers are cutting production as they can’t get enough chips. Chip fabs are also struggling to get the materials necessary to fulfil orders for automotive manufacturers and other verticals. Everyone seems to be struggling to secure the basic resources that they need to fill their role in the supply chain. We have seen market market moves in the last few months as companies look to boost their own production. Intel, TSMC and others have announces billions of dollars investment to build new chip fabs around the world. On a smaller scale in our own industry, NXP has bought Newport Wafer Fab in South Wales and Infineon has expanded its supplier base by signing a new contract with the Japanese wafer manufacturer Showa Denko. As we try to get back to normal, large opportunities will open up and if one supplier can’t get the goods to their customers, there will be plenty more companies queuing up to take the money.
The latest company to try safeguard the resources it needs to boost manufacturing is On Semiconductor. The Phoenix-based semiconductor company has announced a deal to buy GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT), a supplier of silicon carbide boules. onsemi will pay $415 million in cash for the New Hampshire-based company. Founded in 1994, GTAT has significant experience in crystalline growth, including SiC. Developed in 2017 and launched in 2018, the company’s CrystX SiC product was specifically designed for the rapidly expanding power electronics applications demanding SiC solutions. CrystX SiC boules come in a 150mm (6″) diameter form factor that is ready to be sliced into wafers for manufacture. The boules have a resistivity of 20 mΩ-cm ±5, which can be tuned to the 2 mΩ-cm range by the company.
The transaction will position onsemi to secure and increase supply of SiC to meet the rapidly growing demand for SiC-based solutions from its customers. The solutions are used in applications that include EVs, EV charging and energy infrastructure. The combination of onsemi’s manufacturing capabilities with GTAT’s technical expertise will quicken SiC development and position onsemi to better serve customers over the next decade. This enhanced SiC capability will assure customers of the continued supply of critical components.
onsemi plans to invest in expanding GTAT’s research and development efforts to advance 150mm and 200mm SiC crystal growth technology, while also investing in the broader SiC supply chain, including Fab capacity and packaging.
Expanding on the purchase, Hassane El-Khoury, president and chief executive officer of onsemi said, “This transaction reflects our confidence and stated commitment to meaningfully invest in silicon carbide solutions to support the creation of intelligent power and sensing technologies. We are focused on deepening our leadership and innovation in technologies that support the automotive and industrial sectors, and GTAT brings outstanding technical capabilities and expertise in developing wafering-ready silicon carbide, which we intend to expand to better serve customers in our high-growth end markets. We look forward to welcoming GTAT’s employees to the onsemi team.”
In November 2020, GTAT signed a contract to supply the company’s SiC CrystX boules to Infineon over the next five years as part of Infineon’s drive to expand its supplier base for materials. GTAT also signed a long-term deal with GlobalWafers in 2019. GlobalWafers company supplies many of the top power companies in the market, including Analog Devices.