Cree and ABB Form Partnership for Silicon Carbide Semiconductors

November 29, 2019 by Jacob Ramirez

Leading semiconductor developer Cree has recently agreed to a partnership with ABB in an effort to expand the market for their SiC semiconductors.

In a recent press release, major industrial electronics corporation ABB announced a deal with Cree, Inc. that will see the company’s silicon carbide semiconductors integrated into a wide range of ABB’s product portfolio, as well as being included in its general semiconductor sales.

Furthermore, this deal marks another of Cree’s recent expansions into emergent electronics fields, such as the company’s recent partnership agreement with the German ZF Group, which will see the companies working together in the electric vehicles market.


Image from ABB


Cree’s Rapid Expansion

Cree is one of the world’s leading suppliers of LEDs and lighting technology, and has a long history in lighting sales and development. However, in recent years, the company has expanded its reach into RF technology by acquiring Infineon’s radio frequency power business in 2018.

Additionally, Cree has been credited as creating the world’s first silicon carbide wafer, and have increased their hold on the semiconductor market by expanding their silicon carbide semiconductors throughout the industry as the next global standard of semiconductors.

Recently, Cree announced a $1 billion investment in SiC fabrication facilities, signaling that their commitment to SiC will extend into the coming years.


Silicon Carbide for the Future of Industry

Silicon carbide semiconductors feature a variety of advantages over conventional silicon semiconductors, which they are rapidly replacing in industrial applications. A key advantage of SiC semiconductors is their lower switching losses and significantly higher switching frequencies.

Cree has stated that SiC semiconductors are able to convert energy at a 99 percent efficiency rating, drastically increasing efficiency, reducing losses, and leading to greater sustainability.

In October, Cree was a partner with NY CREATES (the New York Center for Research, Economic Advancement, Technology, Engineering, and Science) in a successful demonstration of an SiC wafer as a step in their ambition to create the "world's-first, 200mm SiC wafer fabrication facility" in New York state.


An SiC wafer created by Cree and NY CREATES

An SiC wafer created by Cree and NY CREATES. Image from Cree


Furthermore, SiC semiconductors are able to reach a much higher withstand voltage than silicon semiconductors, have a higher bandgap than Si, possess far greater thermal conductivity than both Si and gallium nitride (GaN), as well as the ability to configure higher voltage in power devices over a much thinner drift region.

As a result, silicon carbide semiconductors provided by companies such as Cree are poised to be the most viable solution for the next generation of power devices across industrial sectors.


Cree Brings Silicon Carbide to ABB

This is where ABB and Cree come in, as the unique value of silicon carbide is not lost on these two companies, and their partnership is mutually beneficial to each of the two corporate giants. As part of the deal, Cree will see their silicon semiconductors become components in ABB’s own products and solutions, in addition to being sold in ABB’s product catalog.

For Cree, this partnership will likely cause them to receive a considerable increase in their foothold on the semiconductor market. Being included in ABB’s products and catalog broadens their customer base, and guarantees them a sizable contract as their semiconductors will be included in ABB’s power modules.

For ABB, the inclusion of Cree’s SiC semiconductors will improve the overall quality and efficiency of their power solutions, as well as giving the firm a foothold into the rapidly-growing electric vehicles sector.


SiC Semiconductors Going Forward

In recent years, we’ve begun to see the rapid adoption of SiC semiconductors into power and industrial solutions. Additionally, silicon carbide is thought to be the answer to electric vehicle development in the near future, with Cree and the ZF Group stating their purpose to bring a new electronic drive utilizing the semiconductors to market in 2022.