Production Scale-Up of Conductive Silicon Carbide Wafer Technology for Electric Vehicle and Charging Infrastructure Power Electronics Cost Reduction

Reducing the cost of high performance consumer electronics chips.

Halo Industries, Inc.

Recipient

Palo Alto, CA

Recipient Location

13th

Senate District

24th

Assembly District

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$3,000,000

Amount Spent

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Active

Project Status

Project Update

In 2021, the team completed all major aspects of the design of the silicon carbide wafer production line and all relevant 3rd party equipment, as well as all components for in-house designed and built tools, were ordered. Some 3rd party tools arrived in 2021, though were delivered in 2022, and all in-house built tools started their build cycle.
In 2022, the team received all remaining, necessary 3rd party production tools as well as qualified all of its internally designed and built systems. The team completed the technical work associated with this project and demonstrated all of the targeted process metrics. The project was a major success and exceeded expectations.
In 2023, the team expects to complete all documentation associated with the project closeout.

The Issue

By a large margin, the highest cost of next-generation, high-efficiency power electronics is the cost of the conductive SiC material. The conductive SiC wafer, which is the base substrate that the individual power electronics are fabricated from, currently accounts for roughly 50% of the end device cost. Due to the nature of current wire-saw based manufacturing technology, nearly 50% of the mass of the expensive, initial material is irrecoverably lost. The result is a conductive silicon carbide wafer that can cost over $1,000 per piece and take an exorbitant amount of time to produce.

Project Innovation

The purpose of this project is to bring a silicon carbide wafer manufacturing method into low rate initial production. This manufacturing method uses a patented laser based slicing technology and dramatically lowers the cost of these wafers - which are necessary for advanced, next generation power electronics for a wide variety of applications. During the project, the Recipient will complete manufacturing design and engineering work, develop a stable and scalable supply chain, and demonstrate the pilot production system.

Project Benefits

This project will lead to technological advancement and breakthroughs to overcome barriers to the achievement of the State of California's statutory energy goals by decreasing costs and increasing the quality of silicon carbide chip wafers. Silicon carbide is an advanced electronics chip material that is found in a broad range of products such as high-end cellphones, electric vehicles, and computer chips. Use of silicon carbide is increasing due to its high energy efficiency, better temperature acceptance, and performance. Since energy efficiency is at the heart of California's push to achieve its energy goals, these benefits will accelerate the timeline for achieving its targets while increasing California's ability to manufacture high-tech materials and provide high-skilled jobs.

Lower Costs

Affordability

The results of this agreement will result in lower costs for ratepayers that use consumer electronics and electric vehicles because this project will significantly lower the cost of producing a silicon-carbide wafer. These wafers are integral to most high-performance electronic chips.

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