SEOUL -- DB Hitek, a foundry company in South Korea, has embarked on research into silicon carbide and gallium nitride semiconductors, as a shortage in a disrupted global supply chain highlighted the strategic importance of automotive semiconductors.
Gallium nitride (GaN) is used as a key part of power amplification devices for mobile communication and high-performance military equipment. Due to high power density and voltage breakdown limits, GaN is emerging as a promising candidate for 5G cellular base station applications.
Silicon carbide (SiC) is a compound semiconductor containing silicon and carbon. SiC power semiconductors are seen as essential parts of electric vehicles and hydrogen cars. Because of durability and stability, SiC power semiconductors are rapidly replacing silicon (Si) power semiconductors.
"We are exploring the development of SiC and GaN as our next-generation products as they are a blue ocean related to rapidly growing electric vehicles," an unnamed DB Hitek official said. "It is important to establish a strategic supply chain due to high entry barriers, so we asked for government support."
A semiconductor fab or known as a foundry operates for the purpose of fabricating the designs of other companies, such as fabless semiconductor companies. A top player in the global foundry market is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). DB Hitek, which operates an eight-inch wafer-based foundry facility, has been swamped with orders due to a serious shortage in automotive semiconductors. However, the company has been cautious over massive investments to expand facilities due to a financial burden.
At a recent ceremony to launch a cooperative body involving South Korean semiconductor companies, DB Hitek CEO Choi Chang-sik emphasized the creation of an ecosystem for the production of semiconductors for vehicles with government support.
In an effort to reduce South Korea's heavy reliance on foreign automotive semiconductors, the government is pushing for research into new material-based semiconductors. South Korea's third-largest conglomerate SK Group has made a strategic investment in Yes Powertechnix, the only domestic producer of SiC power semiconductors.
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