The third-generation semiconductor material industry is on the fast track of growth

As the traditional semiconductor process technology is approaching the physical limit, the cost of technology research and development has increased sharply, and the update of manufacturing nodes has become more and more difficult. The evolution of “Moore’s Law” has begun to slow down, and the semiconductor industry has sought breakthroughs in new materials and devices. “Beyond Moore’s Law”, characterized by new principles, new materials, new structures and new processes, brings new opportunities for industrial development. The third generation of semiconductors is an important development of “beyond Moore’s Law”. Compared with Si materials, the third-generation semiconductor materials have the characteristics of high frequency, high power, high temperature resistance, high radiation resistance, and excellent optoelectronic properties, and are especially suitable for the manufacture of microwave radio frequency devices, optoelectronic devices, and power Electronic devices. important direction of development.

Third-generation semiconductors are widely used in new infrastructure

Electronic devices based on third-generation semiconductors are the key cores supporting the four major fields of 5G infrastructure, new energy vehicle charging piles, UHV and rail transit in the new infrastructure.

Many countries in the world are actively developing and building 5G. However, the construction of 5G networks, the use of 5G smartphones, and the construction of 5G base stations are still in the initial stage of construction, and there is a lot of room for development. According to CCID Consulting statistics, as of the end of March 2020, 381 operators in 123 countries around the world have announced that they are investing in 5G; 70 operators in 40 countries have provided one or more 5G services that comply with 3GPP standards; 63 operators released 3GPP-compliant 5G mobile services; 34 operators released 3GPP-compliant 5G fixed wireless access or home broadband services. According to statistics from CCID Consulting, as of early February 2020, China has opened 156,000 5G base stations, and plans to achieve the construction target of 550,000 5G base stations in 2020. By the end of 2019, South Korea plans to build 230,000 5G base stations in its 85 cities; the United States plans to build 600,000 5G base stations; Germany plans to build more than 40,000 5G base stations. GaN material has the advantages of large band gap, high breakdown electric field, high saturation electron velocity, high thermal conductivity, stable chemical properties and strong radiation resistance, and has become one of the preferred materials for high temperature, high frequency and high power microwave devices. . In the field of communication base station applications, GaN is one of the third-generation semiconductor materials with the greatest growth potential in the future. Compared with high-frequency processes such as GaAs and InP, GaN devices output more power; compared with power processes such as LDCMOS and SiC, GaN has better frequency characteristics, and GaN RF devices have become candidates for larger base station power amplifiers in the 5G era Technology.

In order to meet the development needs of the new energy vehicle industry, since 2011, new energy vehicle charging piles have been in the stage of rapid construction. The new energy vehicle charging piles are mainly public charging piles, and the economies with the largest number are China, the European Union and the United States. As of the end of 2019, there were approximately 75,000 and 169,000 public charging points in the United States and the European Union, respectively. my country’s “Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Development Guide (2015-2020)” plan, by 2020, the goal of my country’s decentralized charging piles is more than 4.8 million, to meet the charging needs of 5 million electric vehicles in the country, and the ratio of vehicle piles is nearly 1. : 1. The charging module is the core component of the charging pile, and its cost accounts for 50% of the total equipment cost. The charging module converts alternating current in the grid into rechargeable direct current. In addition, the charging module can not only provide energy and power, but also control and convert the circuit to ensure the stability of the power supply circuit. With the continuous expansion of my country’s new energy vehicle market, the development prospects of the charging pile market are becoming more and more broad. SiC power devices can achieve higher switching frequencies than Si-based power devices, and have the characteristics of high power density and ultra-small size. Under the requirement of being small in size and able to support fast charging, several cars need to be fast-charged at a power of several hundred kilowatts, and an electric vehicle charging station must reach a power of one million watts, which is equivalent to the power used by a community. scale. Traditional Si-based power devices are bulky, but SiC modules can meet the “strict” power requirements with a small volume. Therefore, the penetration rate of SiC power devices in charging modules continues to increase.

Due to China’s large land area and strong power demand, China is actively developing UHV construction and gradually exporting to the world. Compared with traditional high-voltage power transmission, the transmission capacity of UHV power transmission technology will be increased by more than 2 times, and power can be delivered to a transmission distance of more than 2,500 kilometers. Line corridor width and conveying capacity increased by 30%. Since power semiconductors are the core devices of power electronics, SiC as a power semiconductor material also has many application opportunities in the DC UHV supply chain. SiC devices can significantly simplify the circuit structure of solid-state transformers, reduce heat sink space, and increase unit power density by increasing the switching frequency. SiC devices can replace Si-based thyristors used in LCCs, and SiCMOS can replace IGBTs used in VSCs. At present, SiC devices have been applied in medium and low voltage distribution networks. In the future, flexible power transmission and transformation with higher voltage, larger capacity and lower loss will also have a large demand for SiC power devices above 10,000 volts.

As the core device of the high-power AC drive system of the locomotive, the traction converter provides power for the traction system. It has the characteristics of special load characteristics, complex operating environment and large load changes. Since the global intercity high-speed railway and urban rail transit are in the development stage of continuous expansion, the green and intelligent development of rail transit has been promoted, and higher requirements have been placed on the miniaturization and light weight of traction converters and traction motors. The application of SiC devices to rail transit traction converters can maximize the high temperature resistance, high frequency and low loss characteristics of SiC devices, improve the efficiency of traction converters, and help promote the miniaturization of traction converters. And the development of lightweight, help to reduce the load system of rail transit.

In 2022, the market size of substrates and devices will reach 1.521 billion yuan and 60.821 billion yuan

Driven by the vigorous development of emerging fields such as 5G, new energy vehicles, green lighting, and fast charging, and the strong support of national policies, my country’s third-generation semiconductor substrate material market continued to maintain rapid growth in 2019, with a market size of 786 million yuan. A year-on-year increase of 31.7%. It is expected that the market size of China’s third-generation semiconductor substrate materials will maintain an average growth rate of more than 20% in the next three years. In 2019, the market size of my country’s third-generation semiconductor devices reached 8.629 billion yuan, with a growth rate of 99.7%. By 2022, the market size of the third-generation semiconductor device will reach 60.821 billion yuan, with a growth rate of 78.4%.

In the next three years, SiC materials will become the basic materials for high-power and high-frequency power semiconductor devices such as IGBTs and MOSFETs, and are widely used in AC motors, frequency converters, lighting circuits, and traction drives. It is estimated that the market size of SiC substrates will reach 954 million yuan by 2022. In the future, with the expansion of 5G commercial use, the current manufacturers will further upgrade from the original 4G equipment to 5G. The deployment density of 5G base stations is even higher than that of 4G, and the materials used inside the base stations are GaN materials. It is expected that the market size of GaN substrates will reach 567 million yuan by 2022.

GaN and SiC devices occupy only 8.7% and 4.5% of the power semiconductor market share respectively due to their immature technology and high cost. According to industry standards, the price of SiC and GaN power electronic devices can be widely accepted by the market only when the price of SiC and GaN power electronic devices drops to 1/2 to 1/3 times the price of Si products, and the downstream market penetration rate can be greatly improved. With the gradual maturity of the process level and the continuous improvement of the production line yield, the third-generation semiconductor devices still have a large room for price reduction in the future, and the market share of GaN radio frequency devices will continue to increase in the future.

At present, my country’s enthusiasm for investment in third-generation semiconductor materials continues unabated. According to statistics compiled by CCID Consulting, in 2019, there were a total of 17 projects to increase production (including new construction and expansion) (6 in 2018). %. Among them, there were 14 investment events in the SiC field in 2019, involving an amount of 22.08 billion yuan. There were 3 investment events in the GaN field, involving an amount of 4.5 billion yuan. Under the guidance of the new infrastructure, the third-generation semiconductor industry will become an important engine for the development of the semiconductor industry in the future.

Domestic semiconductor companies should seize the new opportunities brought by “new infrastructure”. my country’s third-generation semiconductors are in the growth stage, and they still need large-scale capital investment and policy support to increase the research and development of large-scale single crystal substrates of GaN and SiC. In addition, the mass production of large-scale single crystal substrates will help reduce device costs and increase compound semiconductor market penetration. In order to promote the rapid development of my country’s third-generation semiconductor material industry, local governments have established a number of innovation centers, which are driven by application and guided by industrialization needs, increase scientific and technological innovation, strengthen the transformation of scientific and technological achievements, and seize the core links of industrial technology. , Promote the coordinated development of upstream and downstream industries. For example, the current epidemic prevention and control work still has a long way to go. AlGaN UV LEDs that can be used for sterilization and disinfection have attracted attention. Increasing R&D investment and policy funding support will help AlGaN UV LEDs enter the market.

Domestic semiconductor companies should transform to the IDM model

In terms of investment, on the one hand, domestic enterprises should transform to the IDM model. The performance of the third-generation semiconductor materials is closely related to the material, structural design and manufacturing process, and the investment in the manufacturing production line is relatively low. Therefore, in order to maintain competitiveness, most foreign companies use the IDM model. With the maturity and standardization of substrate and device manufacturing technologies, as well as the enhancement of device design value, the trend of division of labor between device design and manufacturing is becoming more and more obvious. Therefore, in order to ensure their own competitive advantages, domestic enterprises should develop towards the IDM model.

On the other hand, basic platforms such as public R&D and services supporting the industrial chain should be consolidated. Build a specialized national technology innovation center with high-end strategic positioning, open organization and operation, and concentrated innovation resources. A public R&D and service platform that supports institutional innovation, openness, internationalization and sustainable development. Make breakthroughs in common key technologies for industrialization, and solve problems such as weak innovation resources and difficulty in transforming innovation achievements. Build a national-level test verification and production application demonstration platform to lower the threshold for enterprise innovation and application. Improve material testing and evaluation methods and standards, and strengthen national systematic capacity building for application-oriented basic materials, design, technology, equipment, packaging and testing, and standards.

 

Author: Yoyokuo