ST taps EU Chips Act for SiC wafer plant

ST taps EU Chips Act for SiC wafer plant

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

STMicroelectronics is investing €730m in its integrated Silicon Carbide (SiC) substrate manufacturing facility in Italy.

ST says the SiC epitaxial substrate manufacturing facility is the first of its kind in Europe, going from silicon powder through to complete devices. The project includes funding of €292.5m from the Italian government. This support was approved by the European Union and includes a commitment to prioritise parts for European customers, particularly electric car makers. This was a key requirement for the EU Chips Act.  

Under the EU measure, STMicroelectronics agreed to satisfy EU priority rated orders in the case of a supply shortage as well as invest in the development of next generation of microchips, and continue contributing to the strengthening of the European semiconductor ecosystem. Silicon carbide is a key area where ST is looking to dominate global production.

The full vertical integration to reinforce substrate supply for SiC power devices for automotive and industrial customers as they shift to electrification and higher efficiency. Ground breaking started back in February.

Production from the plant is expected to start next year, enabling a balanced supply of SiC substrate between internal and merchant supply, and will create around 700 direct additional jobs at full build-out which the EU says will be in 2026.

SiC plant in Catania

The SiC substrate manufacturing facility, built at ST’s Catania site in Italy alongside the existing SiC device manufacturing facility, will produce 150mm SiC epitaxial substrates in volume, integrating all steps in the production flow. ST is committed to develop 200mm wafers in the future.

“ST is transforming its global manufacturing operations, with additional capacity in 300mm manufacturing and a strong focus on wide bandgap semiconductors to support its $20bn revenue ambition. We are expanding our operations in Catania, the centre of our power semiconductor expertise and where we already have integrated research, development and manufacturing of SiC with strong collaboration with Italian research entities, universities and suppliers” said Jean-Marc Chery, President and Chief Executive Officer of STMicroelectronics. 

“This new facility will be key to our vertical integration in SiC, reinforcing our SiC substrate supply as we further ramp up volumes to support our automotive and industrial customers in their shift to electrification and higher efficiency.”

“The Italian measure approved today will strengthen Europe’s semiconductors supply chain, helping us deliver our green and digital transition,” said Margrethe Vestager, EU Executive Vice-President, in charge of competition policy. “The measure will ensure that our industry has a reliable source of innovative substrates for power efficient chips. They are needed for electric vehicles, charging stations and other applications that play an important role in the green transition. Also, the measure will create high-skilled employment opportunities in Sicily, while limiting possible distortions of competition.”  

ST has been working on SiC technology for 25 years at Catania and includes a large portfolio of key patents. The investment will strengthen Catania’s role as a global competence center for Silicon Carbide technology and for further growth opportunities.

ST’s high-volume STPOWER SiC products are currently manufactured in its fabs in Catania and Ang Mo Kio in Singapore. Assembly and test are done at back-end sites in Shenzhen in China and Bouskoura in Morocco to provide a shorter, more robust supply chain for European customers.

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