SiC Patent Analysis Single Crystal, Wafer and Epiwafer Manufacturing


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SiC Patent Analysis Single Crystal, Wafer and Epiwafer Manufacturing

  1. 1. SiC Patent Analysis Single Crystal, Wafer and EpiwaferManufacturingReport Details:Published:July 2012No. of Pages:Price: Single User License – US$92901772 patent families to support a $80M business in 2012Despite a cumulative raw wafers + epi wafers market that won’t exceed $80M in 2012, the corpusof related patents comprises over 1772 patent families and more than 350 companies since 1928.83% of patents represent a method while 17% of them claim an apparatus.Since 1978 the main technique to grow bulk single-crystals of silicon carbide is PVT: PhysicalVapor Transport (seeded sublimation method) which represents 36% of published patents. ThisPVT technique mostly deals with the hexagonal polytype nH-SiC (n=2,4,6). Liquid Phase Epitaxy(LPE) is an alternative route to grow SiC (early efforts date back to 1961). It allows crystals togrow with low dislocation densities and at relatively low temperatures (attractive for cubic polytype3C-SiC).About 37% of patents claim a Chemical Vapor Deposition technique (CVD) which is almostexclusively used today to manufacture SiC epiwafer. The Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) is onlymentioned within 1% of patents. The polytype (hexagonal or cubic) is explicitly claimed in 15% ofpatents. Numerous strategies to reduce crystal defects (micropipes, carrots …) and make semi-insulating material are proposed in 23% and 10% of patents respectively.INVESTMENT IN R&D DOESN’T MATCH SALES REVENUEAbout 350 applicants are involved in SiC crystal/epiwafer technology. They are mainly located inJapan (72% of patents) and USA (12% of patents). The five major applicants based on theirpatents number are Denso, Sumitomo, Nippon Steel, Bridgestone and Toyota. They representabout 35% of studied patents. The first US firm Cree Inc. occupies the 6th position. This balance istotally uncorrelated from the reality of the market where 75% of the SiC wafer business isgenerated by US-based companies, namely CREE, II-VI or Dow Corning. Japan is onlyresponsible for 5% of the revenues (at least before SiCrystal Acquisition by Rohm). Sameobservations are seen in Europe and Asia (out of Japan) where the [# of patents/revenues] ratio is
  2. 2. very weak at the moment.JAPAN LEADS THE IP BUT KOREA AND CHINA TAKE-OFFJapan is increasingly involved in SiC technology since the 1980’s. United States was the earlyplayer and still is active. In contrast, only 3 Japanese companies are commercially active in SiCmaterial: Showa Denko (epiwafer), Bridgestone (wafer) and Nippon Steel (wafer and epiwafer).China and Korea emerged as new players during the last five years along with the establishmentof companies such as Epiworld (CN), TianYue (CN), TYSTC (CN), Tankeblue (CN), SKC(KR).However, these companies market shares remain very low at the moment.SiC MATERIAL: A QUESTION OF KNOW-HOW?It looks obvious that IP considerations do not create a differentiating factor for success in the SiCsubstrate business. CREE is leading this industry with about 50% market share on a worldwidebasis, and has clearly the best reputation in terms of quality, diameter and reproducibility.However, CREE does not own the widest patent portfolio. Thus, know-how and patent numbers donot seem correlated.The only field where number of patents and business size appears to be more balanced is Semi-Insulating (S.I.) SiC technology where both CREE (Vanadium-free) and II-VI (Vanadium-doped)have extensively patented their respective developments.WHAT IS THE BEST RECIPE TO ENTER THE SiC SUBSTRATE BUSINESS?The barriers to the entry in the SiC substrate world are very high: today state-of-the-art deals with6” diameter, likely no-micropipe and very low dislocation density. Only CREE seems able to offersuch a product today. Why?First of all, CREE has been widely funded by DoD, DoE, DARPA and Navy contracts during theselast 20 years, meaning CREE had comfortable position to handle lots of experiments and improvethe technology for both LED and Power Electronics. So mastering SiC growth is probably aquestion of money, but clearly a question of development time, that cannot be compressed.It looks reasonable then to think there has been a cross-fertilization between LED and Powerbusinesses that allowed CREE to benefit from the LED mass manufacturing, which is probablyless stringent than power at wafer level, to fuel the power electronics side. Finally, the R&D effortshave never ended, maintaining CREE leadership in the safe-area. Apart from receiving funding todevelop the technology, the only options to enter quickly in the SiC substrate battlefield appears tobe through M&A (Merger & Acquisition) of an existing activity or to buy a license and relatedknow-how, paying royalties in return. However who is for sale? Virtually nobody is at this currenttime. Beyond the top five SiC substrate leaders, we don’t see a clear positioning of companieswho may want to participate in a sale or merger of their business. Ultimately, we should payattention to the new developments around LPE (Liquid Phase Epitaxy), done by Toyota, Denso orSumitomo, as well as 3C-SiC (Cubic) which may disrupt the current PVT domination.
  3. 3. KEY FEATURES OF THE REPORTSThis study presents the patent landscape for SiC single crystal and epiwafer over a total of 1772patent families. Several key patents are selected based upon their interest regarding the particulartechnological issues related to the SiC development, as well as their possible blocking factor fornew competing development.The report puts in contrast the patent landscape with the current and expected market status,highlighting the most active companies, the patent transfer and the sleeping IP. The documentalso highlights and describes the key patents that could possibly block new comers, for bothcrystal and epi-growth.Thanks to more than 12 years involvement in the SiC field, Yole is able to present a unique cross-analysis between market dynamics, technology improvement, industry shaping and related patentactivity.The report goes along with Excel™ spreadsheets presenting the 1772 patents (PublicationNumber, Publication Date, Priority Date, Title, Abstract, Assignee(s) and Inventor(s), Legal Status)with direct link to the full patent text and pictures.COMPANY INDEXABB, ACREO, AIST, Ascatron, ATMI, Bridgestone, C9 Corporation, Cabot, Cree, Crysband,Denso, Dow Corning, Ecotron, Epiworld, Fuji Electric, Fujimi, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Hoya, II-VI, Infineon,Kansai Electric Power, Kwansei Gakuin Univ., Mitsubishi, Mitsui, NASA, National Tsing Hua Univ.,N-Crystals, NEC, NeoSemitech, Nippon Pillar Packing, Nippon Steel, NIRO, Nisshin Steel,Norstel, North Carolina Univ., Northrop Grumann, NovaSiC, Okmetic, Panasonic, POSCO, Rohm,Sanyo, SemiSouth, Sharp, Shikusuon, Shinetsu Chemical, Showa Denko, SiC Systems, SiCilab,SiCrystal, Siemens, Sumitomo Metal Industries, TankeBlue, Toshiba, Toyota, TyanYue, TYSTC,United Silicon Carbide, US Navy, WidetronixGet your copy of this report @ points covered in Table of Contents of this report includeIntroductionContext and frame of the surveyDefinitions & glossaryObjective and methodologyExecutive summaryOverview of SiC Substrate MarketSiC Raw Substrate Market SiC bulk wafer manufacturing fundamentals State-of-the-art in SiC Crystal Growth SiC growth technologies main concepts
  4. 4. From polytype to devices From Powder to SiC Epi-ready Wafers SiC Crystal Growth Technique comparison table Main SiC Material Manufacturing Site Locations Commercially Available Material Polytypes, Doping & Orientation Evolution of Relative Market Shares in the SiC Business Current business model Origin of SiC involvement Status of the SiC wafer suppliers as of late 2011 Market Size Projection for SiC Substrates in Various Applications 2010-2020 Market volume projection split by diameter 2010-2020 Wafer Diameter Evolution in Production for Power Electronics: 2005-2020 Wafer Diameter Evolution in Production for GaN/SiC LED: 2005-2020 Wafer Diameter Evolution in Production for GaN/SiC RF devices: 2005-2020SiC Epitaxy Market SiC epi-wafer manufacturing fundamentals Current business model Status of the SiC epi-wafer suppliers as of late 2011 SiC Epi-house and Epi-service Offers SiC Epitaxy evolution forecast Opportunity for an epi-service house SiC Epitaxy Market Estimate The µm.wafer method Annual Volume of Epitaxy Demand in µm.wafer split by application to 2020 Market Projection for SiC Epitaxy Demand to 2020 Outsourced SiC Epitaxy Business Revenues to 2020 Typical process timeSiC Patent Landscape Evolution of SiC patent publication time-line Regional distribution of patents based on priority & publication country Regional comparison of % of filed patents vs. revenues by headquarter location Regional distribution of patents priority time-line TOP-20 leading patent applicants TOP-15 leading patent applicants over the time TOP-15 leading patent applicants by publication country Assignee collaboration network Keyword and strategy of research for the technological segmentation
  5. 5. SiC patents, by technology Company assignee vs. technology matrix Company assignee vs. technology matrix: AnalysisFocus on SiC single-crystal patent landscape The 4 main technologies for SiC single-crystal growth SiC single-crystal growth patents time-line SiC single-crystal growth patent companies involvement TOP-15 leading patent applicants over the time for SiC finishing Focus on Physical Vaport Transport (PVT) Patent time-line PVT patents company involvement TOP-15 leading patent applicants over the time for PVT Focus on Liquid Phase Epitaxy (LPE) Patent time-line LPE patents company involvement TOP-15 leading patent applicants over the time for LPEKey patents in SiC crystal growth How did we select key patents ? Key patents / issues / timeline North Carolina State University, Raleigh (US) Nisshin Steel (JP): sublimation process Siemens (DE): Sublimation reactor design ABB Research (CH) & Okmetic (FI): HTCVD method Northrop Grummann (US): Vanadium-doped S.I. SiC Northrop Grummann (US): seed enlargement CREE (US): Vanadium-free S.I. SiC Sumitomo (JP): LPE technique CREE (US): low dislocation density CREE (US): defects reduction Nippon Steel (JP): Va-doped method CREE (US): High-resistivity SiC crystal CREE (US): low micropipe density Toyota (J): LPE technologySiC epitaxy SiC epitaxy patents time-line SiC epitaxy patent companies involvement
  6. 6. TOP-15 leading patent applicants over the time for SiC finishing Focus on nH-SiC polytype epitaxy Focus on 3C-SiC polytype Focus on defect reduction Focus on Semi-insulating & p-typeKey patents in SiC epitaxy How did we select key patents ? Key patents / issues / timeline Fujitsu (J): 3C SiC epitaxy North Carolina State University, Raleigh (US) National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US) Panasonic (J): CVD growth Mitsubishi (J) ATMI (US): off-cut epitaxy AIST (J) CREE (US) Toshiba (J): 3C SiC epitaxy Hoya (J): ondulant substrate for 3C growth National Tsing Hua University (TW): 3C SiCSiC finishing SiC finishing patents time-line SiC finishing patent companies involvement TOP-15 leading patent applicants over the time for crystal growthContact: for more information.