Soitec

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Soitec Silicon
Société Anonyme – SA (French publicly-traded limited company)
Traded as EuronextSOI
Founded 1992 (1992)
Founder André-Jacques Auberton Hervé & Jean-Michel Lamure
Headquarters Bernin (Isère), France
Key people
Paul Boudre (CEO and chairman)
Products
  • Silicon on insulator-based semiconductors
  • Solutions for transferring layers of semiconducting materials
Revenue €222.9 million (2014–2015)
Owner General public (82.666%)
BPI France (9.542%)
Caisse des Dépôts (3.736%)
André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé (2.302%)
Shin-Etsu Handotai Co., Ltd. (partner since 1997 and Soitec's first licensee) (1.925%)
Auberton-Hervé family (0.229%)
Number of employees
1,149 (31 March 2015)
Website soitec.com

Soitec is a France-based international industrial company specialized in generating and manufacturing high performance semiconductor materials.

Soitec's semiconductor materials are used to manufacture chips which equip smartphones, tablets, computers, IT servers, and data centres. Soitec's products are also found in electronic components used in cars, connected objects (Internet of Things), as well as industrial and medical equipment.

Soitec's flagship product is silicon on insulator (SOI). Materials produced by Soitec come in the form of substrates (also called "wafers"). These are produced as ultra-thin disks that are 200 to 300 mm in diameter and are less than 1 mm thick. These wafers are then etched and cut to be used for microchips in electronics.

History[edit]

Soitec was founded in 1992 near Grenoble in France by two researchers from CEA-Leti, an institute for micro- and nanotechnologies research created by the French Commission for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies (CEA). The pair developed Smart Cut™ technology to industrialize Silicon-On-Insulator (SOI) wafers, and built their first production unit in Bernin, in the Isère department of France.

By applying this technology to materials other than silicon and developing further processes, Soitec has built up expertise in the field of semiconductor materials for the electronics market.

Soitec's offering initially targeted the electronics market. At the end of the 2000s, Soitec launched into the solar energy and lighting markets, exploiting new openings for its materials and technologies. In 2015, the company announced that it would be refocusing its efforts on its core business: electronics.

Soitec employs about one thousand people throughout the world and currently has production units in France and in Singapore. The company also has R&D centers and commercial offices in France, the United States (Arizona and California), China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

Key dates[edit]

  • 1992: Creation of Soitec by researchers from CEA-Leti in Grenoble, France.
  • 1997: Shift to mass production after the signature of a Smart Cut™ technology licensing agreement with Shin Etsu Handotai (SEH).
  • 1999: Construction of the first production site in Bernin (Bernin 1), and launch of Soitec's initial public offering.
  • 2002: Inauguration of Bernin 2, a manufacturing unit dedicated to 300-mm diameter wafers.
  • 2003: Acquisition of Picogiga International, a company specializing in technologies for III-V composite materials, and the first foray into materials other than SOI.
  • 2006: Acquisition of Tracit Technologies, a company specializing in molecular adhesion and mechanical and chemical thinning processes, enabling diversification into new applications for Smart Cut™ technology.
  • 2008: Opening of a production unit in Asia, in Singapore. In 2012, this unit housed the SOI wafer recycling business. In 2013, production stopped at the unit to prepare for the company's new Fully Depleted Silicon on Insulator (FD-SOI) technology.
  • 2009: Acquisition of Concentrix Solar, a German supplier of concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) systems, Soitec thus entering the solar energy market.
  • 2011: Acquisition of Altatech Semiconductor, a company specialized in developing equipment for producing semiconductors.
  • 2012: Opening of a production unit for CPV modules in San Diego, California, with a capacity of 140 MW, upgradeable to 280 MW.
  • 2013: Signature of a Smart Cut™ licensing agreement with Sumitomo Electric to develop the gallium nitride (GaN) wafer market for LED lighting applications. Signature of another agreement, with GT Advanced Technologies, to develop and commercialize equipment for producing wafers for manufacturing LEDs and other industrial applications.
  • 2014: Samsung and STMicroelectronics sign a foundry and license agreement. It enables Samsung to use the FD-SOI technology to produce 28 nm integrated circuits. The FD-SOI technology originates from the cooperation between Soitec, ST and CEA Leti. Soitec solar energy division also inaugurates the first 50% of South African Touwsrivier solar plant, which will have a final total capacity of 44 MWp. The plant was never completed.
  • 2015: After the stoppage of some important solar projects in the United States, Soitec announces a strategic shift toward its electronics business and a plan to leave the solar energy business.[1]
  • 2015: in the electronics business, GlobalFoundries announces in July the implementation of a technological platform for producing 22-nm FD-SOI chips.

Operations[edit]

Historically, Soitec has marketed Silicon on Insulator (SOI) as a high performance material for manufacturing electronic chips for computers, game consoles and servers, as well as the automotive industry. With the explosion of mobile products (tablets, smartphones, etc.) on the consumer electronics market, Soitec has also developed new materials for radio-frequency components, multimedia processors, and power electronics.

With the rapid growth of the Internet of Things, wearables, and other mobile devices, new needs have arisen in terms of performance and energy efficiency of electronic components. For this market, Soitec offers materials that help reduce the energy consumed by chips, improve their information processing speed, and support the needs of high-speed Internet.

In the solar energy market, Soitec manufactured and supplied Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) systems from 2009 to 2015. Research conducted in order to create a new generation of four-junction solar cells led Soitec to set a world record in December 2014 with a cell capable of converting 46% of solar rays into electricity. Soitec announced in January 2015 that it would be leaving the solar market after several important solar plant projects ended.

In the lighting industry, Soitec operates upstream and downstream of the LED value chain.

Upstream, the company uses its expertise in semiconductor materials to develop substrates made from gallium nitride (GaN), the base material used in LEDs.

Downstream, Soitec is developing a range of industrial partnerships to commercialize new professional lighting solutions (urban, office and transport infrastructure lighting).

Technologies[edit]

Soitec is developing numerous technologies for its different sectors of activity.

Smart Cut™[edit]

Developed by CEA-Leti in collaboration with Soitec,[2] this technology has been patented by researcher Michel Bruel.[3] It makes possible the transfer of a thin layer of monocristalline material from a donor substrate to another by combining ion implantation and bonding by molecular adhesion. Soitec uses Smart Cut™ technology to mass-produce SOI wafers. Compared with classic bulk silicon, SOI enables a significant reduction in energy leakage in the substrate, and improves the performance of the circuit in which it is used.

Smart Stacking™[edit]

This technology involves the transfer of partially or fully processed wafers onto other wafers. It can be adapted to wafer diameters of 150 mm to 300 mm and is compatible with a wide variety of substrates, such as silicon, glass and sapphire.

Smart Stacking™ technology is used for back-side illuminated image sensors, where it improves sensitivity and enables a smaller pixel size, as well as in smartphone radio-frequency circuits. It also opens new doors to 3D integration.

Epitaxy[edit]

Soitec has epitaxy expertise in III-IV materials across the following fields: molecular beam epitaxy, metal organic vapor phase epitaxy deposition and hydride vapor phase epitaxy. The company manufactures wafers of gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium nitride (GaN) for developing and manufacturing compound semiconductor systems.

These materials are used in Wi-Fi and high-frequency electronic devices (mobile telecommunications, infrastructure networks, satellite communications, fiber optic networks and radar detection), as well as in energy management and optoelectronic systems, such as LEDs.

Financial data[edit]

  • 2014–2015 revenues: €222.9 million
  • 2014–2015 consolidated current operating result: – €277.3 million
  • 2014–2015 gross profit: – €30.8 million

Capital increases[edit]

Soitec has carried out three capital increases:

  • The first in July 2011 to finance investments, especially for developing its solar energy and LED businesses.
  • The second in July 2013 to contribute to the refinancing of bonds convertible and/or exchangeable into new or existing shares (“OCEANEs”) due in 2014 and strengthen the company’s financial structure. In addition, Soitec opened a further bond issue in September 2013.
  • The third in June 2014 to strengthen Soitec’s financial profile and its cash position and support the FD-SOI substrates industrial mass production.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Soitec – Financial press releases". www.soitec.com. Retrieved 2015-11-13. 
  2. ^ "Des ions et des hommes" (Ions and humans), Leti website, March 29, 2013
  3. ^ Patent n°US5374564