STMicroelectronics has signed an agreement to acquire a majority stake in French Gallium Nitride (GaN) innovator Exagan. Exagan’s expertise in epitaxy, product development and application know-how will broaden and accelerate ST’s power GaN roadmap and business for automotive, industrial and consumer applications. Exagan will continue to execute its product roadmap and will be supported by ST in the deployment of its products. Illustrated above is Exagan’s “G-Stack™” process technology.
Terms of the transaction were not disclosed and closing of the acquisition remains subject to customary regulatory approvals from French authorities. The signed agreement also provides for the acquisition by ST of the remaining minority stake in Exagan 24 months after the closing of the acquisition of the majority stake. The transaction is funded with available cash.
“ST has built strong momentum in silicon carbide and is now expanding in another very promising compound material, gallium nitride, to drive adoption of the power products based on GaN by customers across the automotive, industrial and consumer markets” said Jean-Marc Chery, President and CEO of STMicroelectronics. “The acquisition of a majority stake in Exagan is another step forward in strengthening our global technology leadership in power semiconductors and our long-term GaN roadmap, ecosystem and business. It comes in addition to ongoing developments with CEA-Leti in Tours, France, and the recently-announced collaboration with TSMC.”
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G-Stack – Overcoming GaN-on-Silicon’s technological hurdles
Using standard but state-of-the-art epitaxial equipment from leading MOCVD vendors, Exagan’s GaN-on-silicon process – called G-Stack™ – allows tight control of all the material’s crystalline properties including defects, impurities and thickness. This allows the production of FETs with high breakdown voltage, low leakage and low dispersion.
With G-Stack, Exagan first creates a unique sequence of GaN-based materials that is stacked as an insulating buffer atop the base substrate. Strain-management layers are then inserted into the stack to prevent cracking in the low-defect-density GaN crystal. According to the company, this proprietary technology is the most effective way to achieve the ultimate balance of high-quality crack-free material, reliable stress management and flat 200-mm wafers.
This approach enables standardized manufacturing of GaN-on-silicon devices for applications up to 1,200V. Since Exagan controls its own materials technology, it can tailor the epitaxial layers to achieve the desired device properties for each intended application.
GaN products will address a wide variety of applications such as power factor correction and dc-dc converters in servers, telecom and industrial applications, on-board chargers for EVs and dc-dc converters for automotive applications, as well personal electronics applications like power adaptors.
Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Grenoble (France), Exagan is dedicated to accelerating the power-electronics industry’s transition from silicon-based technology to GaN-on-silicon technology, enabling smaller and more efficient electrical converters. Its GaN power switches are designed for manufacturing in standard 200-mm wafer fabs.