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Soitec Boosts SiC Yields With KLA Tools

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Partnership will help bring high quality SiC semiconductors in high volumes to the automotive market

Semiconductor materials firm Soitec has selected process control specialist KLA Corporation to enable high yield manufacturing of innovative SiC devices for the automotive industry.

Soitec uses its patented SmartSiC technology to produce SiC substrates, which aims to improve the performance of power electronics devices and boost electric vehicles' energy efficiency.

Based on its track record of using KLA's inspectors for its Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) wafers, Soitec has extended its partnership with KLA and selected the Surfscan SP A2 unpatterned inspection system for its SmartSiC wafers.

Soitec's SmartSiC wafers are said to provide superior and unique crystal quality, while KLA's Surfscan SP A2 uses DUV optics and advanced algorithms to support substrate quality control. They say the partnership will enable SiC substrate production at new and even more sophisticated levels, supporting the industry to bring high quality SiC semiconductors in high volumes to the automotive market.

In March 2022, Soitec announced the construction of a new fab, Bernin 4, at its headquarters in Bernin near Grenoble, France, primarily dedicated to the manufacturing of SmartSiC wafers in 150mm and 200mm size. The new fab is expected to be operational by the second half of 2023.

“Coupling our unique SmartSiC engineered substrates with KLA's inspection and metrology systems will help us to assure supreme quality levels in the manufacturing of substrates and thus drive customer yield downstream,” said Christophe Maleville, CTO of Soitec. “With KLA, we have demonstrated the great potential of their inspection system for our all-important SOI technology. We now apply it to our innovative SmartSiC technology for the automotive sector. This will help us to drive our manufacturing efficiency, satisfy the growing demand from the electric vehicle market, and offer further added value to our customers.”

“At KLA we strongly value our customer relationships and R&D investment as they provide us with the knowledge and technologies needed to deliver the required process control solutions at the right time,” stated Jijen Vazhaeparambil, senior vice president of the Surfscan, ADE and ECI group. “Through our close collaboration with Soitec, we were able to adapt our world-class Surfscan inspection technology for the wide band gap substrate segment. The resulting Surfscan SP A2 system provides the sensitivity and production capability needed to help Soitec achieve their stringent quality standards for SiC and other wide band gap substrates.”

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