Europe approves €2bn support for ST’s 200mm SiC line

Europe approves €2bn support for ST’s 200mm SiC line

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

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The European Commission has today approved a €2bn subsidy for the integrated 200mm silicon carbide plant ST Microelectronic is building in Catania, Sicily.

The €5bn ST 200mm SiC high volume line in Catania is fully integrated from the SiC materials to the power chips and modules. It is planned to be in full production by 2033 to produce 15,000 wafers a week and follows a pilot line built last year.

The funding requires ST to implement priority rated orders in the case of a supply shortage in line with the EU Chips Act and ensure that the project will not be subject to restrictions by other countries, or ‘the extraterritorial application of public service obligations imposed by a third country.’

The Silicon Carbide Campus will integrate all steps in the production flow, including SiC substrate development, epitaxial growth processes, 200mm front-end wafer fabrication and module back-end assembly, as well as process R&D, product design, advanced R&D labs for dies, power systems and modules, and full packaging capabilities. This will achieve a first of a kind in Europe for the mass production of 200mm SiC wafers with each step of the process – substrate, epitaxy & front-end, and back-end – using 200 mm technologies for enhanced yields and performances.

“The fully integrated capabilities unlocked by the Silicon Carbide Campus in Catania will contribute significantly to ST’s SiC technology leadership for automotive and industrial customers through the next decades,” said Jean-Marc Chery, President and Chief Executive Officer of STMicroelectronics. “The scale and synergies offered by this project will enable us to better innovate with high-volume manufacturing capacity, to the benefit of our European and global customers as they transition to electrification and seek more energy efficient solutions to meet their decarbonization goals.”

The subsidy for the integrated SiC line comes from the Italian government under the EU Chips Act.

The project builds on technologies that have been and will be developed as part of the Important Projects of Common European Interest (“IPCEIs”) for research and innovation in microelectronics approved by the Commission in December 2018 and in June 2023. On 4 March 2024, ST applied for the recognition of the Catania Campus as an integrated production facility under the European Chips Act. This process is independent from the State aid assessment.

Today’s approval is the third such deal. On 5 October 2022, the Commission approved an Italian measure to support ST in the construction and operation of a SiC wafer plant in Catania using 150mm technology. In April 2023, the Commission approved a €2.9 billion French aid measure to support ST and GlobalFoundries to expand the fab at Crolles.

“The €2 billion Italian measure approved today supports a unique integrated facility for silicon carbide chips. It will strengthen the European semiconductors supply chain and ensure our access to a reliable source of power efficient chips used for example in electric vehicles and charging stations. This will support our digital and green transitions and help create high-skilled employment, while limiting possible distortions of competition,” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy.

ST currently manufactures SIC devices on two high-volume lines on two 150-millimeter wafer lines in Catania (Italy) and Ang Mo Kio (Singapore). A third hub is a  joint venture with Sanan Optoelectronics, with a 200mm lines under construction in Chongqing to serve the Chinese market.

Wafer production facilities are supported by automotive-qualified, high-volume assembly and test operations in Bouskoura in Morocco and Shenzhen in China. SiC substrate R&D and industrialization is undertaken in Norrköping, Sweden following the acquisition of Norstel and in Catania.

Sustainable practices are integral to the design, development, and operation of the Silicon Carbide Campus in Catania to ensure the responsible consumption of resources including water and power.

ST is aiming the SiC MOSFET devices sold as bare die and full SiC modules for electric vehicles, fast-charging infrastructure, renewable energies and various industrial applications including datacentres, supporting voltages at 1200V and above. However SiC chips are more difficult and more costly to manufacture than silicon chips with many challenges to overcome in the industrialization of the manufacturing process, hence the fully integrated line from the SiC ingot to the end device.

Catania has an established ecosystem on power electronics, including a long-term, successful collaboration between ST and the University of Catania and the CNR (Italian National Research Council), as well as a large network of suppliers. The investment will strengthen Catania’s role as a global competence centre for SiC technology and for further growth opportunities.



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