The third generation semiconductors are also called wide band gap semiconductors. The band gap width is above 2.2eV. It is mainly a wide band gap semiconductor material represented by silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN). Compared with the first-generation semiconductor materials represented by silicon (Si) and germanium (Ge) and the second-generation semiconductor materials represented by gallium arsenide (GaAs) and indium antimonide (InSb), it has a high breakdown electric field and high saturation features and advantages such as electron speed, high thermal conductivity, high electron density, and high mobility. It is widely used in new energy vehicles, rail transit, smart grid, new generation mobile communication, consumer electronics and other fields, and is regarded as the core technology supporting the development of energy, transportation, information, defense and other industries. Broadband semiconductors have become the focus of research in the semiconductor industry in the United States, Europe, and Japan.
In addition to silicon carbide and gallium nitride, the third-generation semiconductor materials include semiconductor materials such as zinc oxide, diamond, and aluminum nitride. However, the research on the third-generation semiconductor materials such as zinc oxide, diamond, and aluminum nitride is still in its infancy. The industry is generally more optimistic about the prospects of silicon carbide and gallium nitride market. It is predicted that by 2022, the market size of silicon carbide and gallium nitride power devices will reach more than 4 billion US dollars, with an average annual compound growth rate of up to 45%, which will give rise to huge application market space.
In terms of policy, the Chinese government attach great importance to the research and development of third-generation semiconductor materials and related technologies. Since 2004, the research on the third-generation semiconductor technology has been deployed, and a series of major research projects have been initiated. In 2013, the Ministry of Science and Technology clearly listed the third-generation semiconductor materials and their applications as important content in the “863” project solicitation guidelines for new material technology fields. In 2015 and 2016, the National Science and Technology Major Projects initiated the development and application of third-generation semiconductor power devices. Among the 6 major science and technology projects and 9 major projects released by the State Council in 2016, the third-generation semiconductor is an important part of the major project of “R&D and application of key new materials “. In December 2016, the State Council established the National New Material Industry Development Leading Group to accelerate the development of the new material industry; in February 2017, the National New Material Industry Development Expert Advisory Committee was established; in June 2017, the third generation semiconductor industry technology innovation strategy the alliance organization edited the implementation plan of the 2030 national key new material research and development and application of the third generation semiconductor section.
In terms of investment, the current domestic investment in the semiconductor industry has basically entered the state-led investment stage, and the establishment of a large fund has opened a wave of China’s investment in semiconductors. Both government funds and industrial capital have entered this field. Many places have gradually developed into characteristic gathering areas of the third generation semiconductor industry.
In terms of silicon carbide, Tianke Heda, Shandong Tianyue, CLP Group, etc. have initially achieved mass production of 4-inch silicon carbide single crystal substrate materials and developed 6-inch samples; Tyco Tianrun, Century Jinguang, In China a number of enterprises and institutions have achieved mass production of 600-3300V silicon carbide Schott diodes and are in the stage of user verification. Among them, CRRC Zhuzhou Times Electric, State Grid Joint Research Institute, Xiamen Sanan, etc. A number of companies have built a 6-inch silicon carbide power electronic device process line; Yangjie’s silicon carbide chip technology has reached the leading position on Chinese market.
In terms of gallium nitride, the 13th Institute of CLP has formed a series of gallium nitride microwave power devices and MMIC products, which are used by Huawei and ZTE for base station research and development; Suzhou Navi, and Dongguan China Gallium have 2-4 inch nitride supply capacity of gallium single crystal substrate materials; Suzhou Nexun, Suzhou Jingzhan, Jiangsu Nenghua, Hangzhou Silanwei, and Jiangsu Huagong Semiconductor have all entered the layout of gallium nitride power electronic materials and devices; Sanan Group has also Construction of GaN RF device process line. Hite High-Tech started construction of 6-inch second-generation/third-generation semiconductor integrated circuit chip production lines through its subsidiary Haiwei Huaxin. Regarding construction scale: gallium arsenide semiconductor chip (6 inch) capacity will be at 40000 pieces/year, gallium nitride will be at 30,000 pieces of semiconductor chips (6 inches) per year.
It should be clear that since China started research on silicon carbide, gallium nitride materials and devices relatively late, there is still a big gap in overall development level compared with Japan, Europe and the United States.
To learn more about semiconductor landscape check our new Semiconductor Market & Industry Report 2020.