The Last Power project aims to make the EU independent from other developed countries on wide band-gap semiconductors. In particular, the effort focused on high-quality materials, leading-edge equipment, and advanced processing.
This field is of strategic importance since it involves the development of high-efficiency systems, with the potential for high revenue, for applications whenever electric power is needed. This ranges from telecommunication to automotive, from consumer electronics to electrical household appliances, from industrial applications to home automation.
In particular, the consortium targeted European technology, including equipment, processing, and characterization, to address many of the possible applications. The know-how takes advantage of the presence of the most advanced public research centers and reference universities operating on SiC and GaN technologies, large companies that are world leaders, and many SME from six EU countries.
The EU established the target of developing 150-mm 4H-SiC wafers that qualify as “state-of-the-art.” To date, Last Power has fabricated 100-mm wafers. In addition, the consortium considered GaN heteroepitaxy on 150-mm Si wafers.
The consortium consists of:
STMicroelectronics (Coordinator), Italy
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) - Istituto per la Microelettronica e Microsistemi (IMM), Italy
Foundation for Research & Technology - Hellas - Institute of Electronic Structure & Laser, Greece
Consorzio Catania Ricerche, Italy
Instytut Wysokich Cisnien PAN, Poland
Università della Calabria, Italy
SiCrystal AG, Germany
SEPS Technologies AB, Sweden
SenSiC AB, Sweden
Acreo AB, Department Nanoelectronics, Sweden
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Angelo Alberto Messina has worked with STMicroelectronics for 14 years, and is currently with its corporate R&D and public affairs department.
Nice article, Angelo. Does the consortium plan to push for an EU mandate on this? Ordinarily, OEMs would look for the best technology at the best price without regard to region -- except inasmuch as distance affects price.
Dear Rob, " SEMICONDUCTOR PROCESS AND INTEGRATION" is one of the 8 "Research, Development and Innovation priorities for 2013" (http://www.eniac.eu/web/downloads/AWP/awp2013.pdf). In this respect "Competitivness through Semiconductor Process Differentiation" is one of its main 3 "Grand Challenges". therefore EU is already clearly aware. In this phase Consortium is looking mainly for the best enaibling technology; costs will be then optimized after a proper industrialization phase. Anyway we trust on our results as the best way to push for a very specific EU mandate on this field.
Angelo, this is an interesting effort. It is good to see the technology being developed in a diverse set of locations. I am familiar with STMicro microcontrollers, but have not worked with your power electronic components.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Procurement actually means well. There is no question that procurement can do a better job of phrasing their questions or making connections between engineering’s goals and the processes underway. And if you are using the right deciphering code, the result can live up to -- or surpass -- your expectations.
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