Early laps of silicon carbide race go to ST

By Junko Yoshida for the OJO – YOSHIDA REPORT – Is SiC a story with a happy ending that everybody loves? No, this is [a race] far from over, says ST, who isn’t ready to take a victory lap.

Unprocessed SiC wafers are transparent, complicating many of the manufacturing steps. (Source: STMicroelectronics)

What’s at stake?

Vehicle electrification helped push silicon carbide (SiC) out of labs and into systems, making SiC a commercially viable alternative to silicon-based power electronics. Some high-profile names have played key roles in that transition, but it may be too early for any company to claim victory in the evolving SiC technology race. Who’s best positioned to profit from the decades-long SiC development effort?

When no other carmaker dared to do so, Tesla committed early to silicon carbide (SiC) in its battery electric vehicles. One semiconductor company that played an equally pivotal role in SiC evolution is STMicroelectronics. The Franco-Italian company has kept its SiC R&D project alive through thick and thin for quarter of a century, working closely with the University of Catania and the National Research Council (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, CNR), Italy’s largest research council.

“So, this is a story with a happy ending that everybody loves, right?” we asked Edoardo Merli, general manager of ST’s Power and Transistor division, in a recent interview. But Merli wasn’t ready to take a victory lap. “No, this is far from over,” he told the Ojo-Yoshida Report. “A lot of aspects [of SiC] are still in infancy. A lot of improvements and optimization are coming on.”

Indeed, SiC is an evolving tech/business innovation story, involving many players who expect more twists and turns ahead. Nonetheless, STMicroelectronics has taken a lead in the early laps of the silicon carbide race. ST’s power SiC device market share in 2020 was 40 percent, according to Yole Développement… Full article