A strategic partnership has been formed between Wolfspeed and ZF which will see the companies establish a joint innovation lab to accelerate the advancement of silicon carbide systems and devices for mobility, industrial and energy applications.
The partnership also includes ZF making a significant investment to support the planned construction of what is stated to be the world’s most advanced and largest 200mm silicon carbide device fab in Ensdorf, Germany. Both projects are planned as part of the Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) for Microelectronics and Communication Technologies framework. These are dependent on state aid approval from the European Commission.
“These initiatives are a significant step toward a successful industrial transformation. They strengthen European supply resilience and, at the same time, support the European Green Deal and the strategic goals for Europe’s Digital Decade,” said Dr Holger Klein, CEO of ZF.
The joint research facility in Ensdorf will focus on real-world e-mobility and renewable energy system level challenges. Through the collaboration, the pair seek to develop innovations for silicon carbide systems, products and applications, covering the full value chain from chip to complete systems. Furthermore, the research and development center will focus on developing silicon carbide systems and devices for specific requirements within the mobility sector to enhance efficiency and to increase power density.
Wolfspeed also plans to build a fully automated and highly advanced 200mm wafer fabrication facility in Saarland, Germany. ZF will support this new construction with a financial investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in exchange for Wolfspeed common stock. Through the investment ZF will have a minority ownership position in the fab, and Wolfspeed will maintain all operational and management control rights.
“We have a strong partner by our side in ZF, which brings industry-leading experience in scaling components for electric mobility as well as the aptitude to accelerate innovation in silicon carbide systems and power devices,” said Gregg Lowe, president and CEO of Wolfspeed. “I am confident this partnership will lift silicon carbide semiconductor technology to a new level of global impact, supporting increased sustainability and efficiency efforts across a multitude of industries.”
“Together, Wolfspeed and ZF combine expertise in power electronics and systems with a know-how in applications that is unparalleled in the industry,” commented Stephan von Schuckmann, member of the ZF board of management. “Wolfspeed brings its more than 35 years in silicon carbide technology, and at ZF we have a unique understanding of the overall systems across all sectors – from passenger cars and commercial vehicles to construction machinery, wind power and industrial applications. The close cooperation between [the]fab and R&D center will enable us to develop breakthrough innovations beyond state of the art for the benefit of our customers.”