SDK Increases Capacity to Produce 6” SiC Epi-Wafers for Power Devices


Showa Denko (SDK) (TOKYO: 4004) increased its capacity to produce silicon carbide (SiC) epitaxial wafers with a diameter of six inches (150mm) for use in power devices from 400 units a month to 1,100 units a month.  As a result, SDK increased its total capacity to produce SiC epitaxial wafers in terms of four-inch (100mm) wafers from 1,500 units a month to 2,500 units a month, an increase of about 60% from the previous level.  SDK will also start shipping of a new grade of SiC epitaxial wafers with fewer defects and higher uniformity in this October.


When compared with the mainstream silicon-based semiconductors, SiC power devices using SiC epitaxial wafers can operate under relatively high-temperature, high-voltage and heavy-current conditions, while substantially reducing energy loss.  With these features, SiC power devices are watched as next-generation power devices that enable the production of smaller, lighter, and more efficient power control modules.  Inverters based on SiC power devices are already used in such applications as power sources for servers in data centers, decentralized power generation systems utilizing new energy sources, and subway railcars.  Moreover, some car manufacturers and their suppliers recently announced to use SiC-power-device-based inverters in electric vehicles and hybrid cars.  Thus, SiC power devices are expected to be in rising demand.


SDK has so far been producing and selling three-inch (76.2mm), four-inch and six-inch SiC epitaxial wafers. In order to increase the supply of six-inch wafers, which can help increase productivity of power device manufacturers, SDK introduced additional chemical vapor deposition (CVD) equipment which can be applied to the production of all sizes of SiC epitaxial wafers in our lineup.  This new equipment improves epitaxial-wafer productivity for about 30%, and will help further reduce power-device production costs.


SiC epitaxial wafers with diameters of 6, 4 and 3 inches (from left to right)

SiC epitaxial wafers with diameters of 6, 4 and 3 inches (from left to right)


SiC-based power control modules for use in automobiles, power generation facilities, power transmission facilities and high-speed trains are requested to have heavier withstanding currents, while SiC-power-control-module market for these devices are expected to grow in the near future.  To meet these requests, enlargement of the sizes of SiC chips is necessary.  In order to prevent deterioration of yield rates in production of large-sized SiC chips from epitaxial wafers, SDK will start sales of a new grade of SiC epitaxial wafers with fewer surface defects* in this October.  The new grade products will enable our customers to expect yield rates improvement for more than 10% in production of large SiC chips for the above applications.**


The market size of SiC power devices is expected to grow to be about 30 billion yen in 2020.  SDK will continue meeting market needs for quality, and contribute to the extension of SiC power device market.


* Rates of occurrence of defects: 0.5 defects/cm2 onthe surface of current grade wafers versus 0.25 defects/cm2 on the surface of new grade wafers

**This is an estimated value for the production of large SiC chips within the range of 7mm2 to 10mm2.


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