Exagan raises 5.7m euros to produce GaN-on-Si power-switches on 200-mm wafers

Exagan raises 5.7m euros to produce GaN-on-Si power-switches on 200-mm wafers

Business news |
By eeNews Europe

The investors include leading French venture funds with a record of identifying and fostering promising, fast-growth, early-stage technology companies:

  • Technocom2, managed by Innovacom, a pioneering French venture capital firm
  • CM-CIC Innovation, the investment arm of the large European bank group, Crédit Mutuel-CIC Group
  • IRDInov, a regional seed investor in emerging, fast-growth companies
  • CEA investissement, a manager of funds invested in technology companies, and which invested via the CEA strategic fund.
  • Soitec, a world leader in providing revolutionary semiconductor materials

Following Exagan’s agreement with X-FAB to produce devices on 200 mm wafers, the financing will help support the company’s mission of becoming Europe’s primary supplier of GaN-based power switches for the solar, automotive, IT electronics and other markets. That mission includes a strategic partnership with CEA-Leti, which is developing applications with some of its industrial partners based on Exagan’s G-FET 650 V platform and its unprecedented power-switching performance with low conduction losses.

Working with CEA-Leti in Grenoble, where some process steps are performed, X-FAB and Exagan are manufacturing the first of Exagan’s G-FET 650 Volt, fast-switching power devices on 200 mm substrates using a standard silicon manufacturing line. To date, the global semiconductor industry’s work with GaN has been limited to 100mm and 150mm wafers due to the challenges of creating the required GaN layers on silicon substrates. Without the ability to use larger wafers in mass production, GaN-based semiconductors have not been available at a competitive price-performance point compared to other power-switching alternatives. Exagan’s innovative G-Stack technology enables GaN-on-silicon devices to be manufactured economically on 200 mm substrates by depositing a unique stack of GaN and strain management layers that alleviates the stress between bonded GaN and silicon layers. The resulting G-FET devices meet customer requirements for high breakdown voltage, low vertical leakage and high-temperature operation. These advanced semiconductors also allow greater power integration, which improves the efficiency and reduces the cost of electrical converters.

Exagan, which is based in Grenoble, France with a branch office in Toulouse, was spun off by Leti and Soitec in 2014 and licenses materials and technology from both organizations.

Power integration is key to meeting the growing demand for less expensive and more efficient electrical converters that silicon power devices cannot meet. The material properties of GaN devices, meanwhile, offer promising power-integration and efficiency gains that deliver higher power density and switching speed at the device level.

“This significant first round of financing validates our efforts over the past five years with Leti and Soitec to commercialize GaN-on-silicon technology and supports our commitment to provide customers with qualified GaN devices in large volumes,” said Frédéric Dupont, Exagan CEO and co-founder. “We are focused on offering our customers reliable, high-performance devices that are developed with industrial partners already sourcing technologies or products for the targeted markets.”

Vincent Deltrieu, a partner at Innovacom, said: “Exagan has developed a G-FET product platform that offers major competitive advantages for electrical-converter makers serving the power-electronics industry. By leveraging the platform’s efficiency and power-saving features, Exagan is well positioned to establish itself as a key technology provider in this high-growth market that has the potential to exceed 1 billion euros in the coming years.”

Jean-Michel Petit, managing director of IRDInov, said: “Based on our experience with the automotive and aerospace industries, we are convinced of the potential markets for GaN power electronic devices. This is all the more reason to further develop its presence in Toulouse, which has a concentration of competencies in power-electronics applications and many potential future clients.”

Soitec CEO Paul Boudre added: “Soitec is obviously excited about this successful round of financing for Exagan. Their GAN-on-silicon technology, which leverages our own materials expertise, opens very interesting opportunities in promising markets such as electronics, automotive and energy. Exagan is well positioned to drive innovation in power switching technology, due to its location in Grenoble among the strong mix of innovative companies and technology-integration clusters.”

Soitec and CEA Investissement also provided financial support to Exagan prior to the first round of venture-fund backing.

Leti CEO Marie Semeria said Leti has invested many years in developing GaN technologies because it believes they will drive innovation in the power-electronics industry and accelerate development of sustainable-energy technologies.

“We are very excited about the prospects for Exagan, a European source of new GaN power switches for our key industrial partners in the fields of transportation and energy, as well as broader markets,” she said. “Through our partnership with Exagan, Leti will accelerate its investment in this area to further develop our leading expertise in GaN technology and related systems and applications.”

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