LONDON – NXP Semiconductors NV (Eindhoven, The Netherlands) has won support funding from the U.K. government for the development of power semiconductors using gallium nitride (GaN) at the company's Hazel Grove wafer fab near Manchester, England.
The U.K. government will provide £2 million (about $3 million) to support £7.5 million (about $11.5 million) of investment from NXP. The $14.5 million total funding safeguards more than 400 existing manufacturing jobs and is set to create up to 100 new positions, NXP said.
The money will be used to recruit extra R&D staff, assist in the making of prototypes, and provide equipment for the development phase of the GaN power semiconductors, NXP said.
NXP is putting its efforts into commercializing 650-V diodes and switches based on a proprietary GaN-on-Si process technology. NXP has stated that it plans to release a portfolio of GaN discrete devices made at the Hazel Grove PowerMOS wafer fab in 2H14. The products will be targeted at applications where energy conversion efficiency is key, such as power factor correction power supplies, solar energy, motor control and automotive electronics.
The Hazel Grove site has been manufacturing transistors for more than 25 years and has been making MOSFET power transistors for much of that time, currently on 6-inch diameter wafers. GaN is more efficient than silicon and is becoming a material of choice for certain optoelectronic, power semiconductor and radio frequency applications. However, it is difficult for GaN to compete on a commercial basis with established ecosystem around silicon power transistor manufacture. GaN-on-silicon is a recent cost breakthrough that reduces the cost per wafer for power applications and allows processing in existing silicon wafer fabs, and scaling up to 6-inch and 8-inch diameter wafers.