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ASTRI to Co-Develop First ‘Made in Hong Kong’ SiC IPM for EVs

The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) has partnered with a leading supplier of semiconductor assembly and SMT equipment as well as a local power solutions provider to co-develop the industry’s first ‘Made in Hong Kong’ Silicon Carbide (SiC) Intelligent Power Module (IPM) for electric vehicles (EVs).

SiC power transistors are progressively displacing silicon counterparts because of their advantages in voltage resistance, high switching speed, and superior thermal performance, all crucial requirements for next-generation EVs. Enabling power systems with significantly smaller size and weight but much better efficiency could address EV ‘range anxiety’ issues while enabling vehicle design improvements in both aerodynamics and performance.

This development is expected to add impetus to the Hong Kong Government’s drive to promote the development of EVs. It announced in 2021 that by 2035 it would suspend new registrations of carbon fuel-driven private cars (including hybrid vehicles) and require newly registered private small and medium-sized private cars to be EVs.

This collaboration is a great example of the spirit of cooperation between the private industry and local technology institutions in Hong Kong. This promotion and development of a third-generation semiconductor ecosystem via the first ‘Made in Hong Kong’ IPM will help fuel Hong Kong’s re-industrialisation endeavours and help create a high-end semiconductor industry ecosystem in China’s Greater Bay Area.

ASTRI has always focused on innovative packaging technology and power electronics technology for electronic modules. To develop a ‘Made in Hong Kong’ SiC MOSFET power module, a core research team has been formed. The R&D for this project will delve into technology from raw die to high precision multiple die integration technology.

The project will be conducted at ASTRI’s 3D Systems-in-Package Laboratory and the semiconductor assembly supplier’s Power Lab of the Innovation & Technology Centre. The Power Lab’s market-leading high-performance SiC IPM complete solutions include printing, precision multiple die placement, silver sintering, heavy aluminium wire bonding, and more.
The three partners bring strong, complementary strengths to the table.

ASTRI is a leader in advanced semiconductor application technology and has been focusing on the development of a new generation of advanced semiconductor technology solutions, including 3D integrated power electronics technology for the construction of high-power ‘SiC’ modules.

The power solutions provider is a local manufacturer of third-generation semiconductor silicon carbide power devices in Hong Kong with high-efficiency ‘SiC’ transistor technology and design capability that helps EVs operate with better battery life and efficiency. It also has strong in-house development capabilities for ‘SiC MOSFET’, and strong relationships with EV makers in the region.

The semiconductor assembly supplier provides hardware and software solutions for the manufacture of semiconductors and electronics, possessing more than 1,000 semiconductor packaging technology patents, including ultra-thin chips, ultra-high precision bonding and third-generation semiconductor packaging technology. It has deep technology and process and design know-how including the full range of automotive electronic packaging solutions, from working with a wide array of customers in the industry.

Crucially, it will be providing crucial silver sintering solutions to the project via its SilverSAM tool. Its patented anti-oxidation and uniform pressure control technology ensures high-strength sintering quality to address not only the basic thermal and electrical conductivity requirements but can also increase the chip density of the IPM design as well as readiness for the emerging requirement of copper sintering to achieve optimal cost-effectiveness and superior high-power performance from the ‘SiC’ module.

The Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI stated that Silicon power modules not only bring breakthroughs in the development of electric vehicle manufacturing in Hong Kong, but this cooperation can also contribute to the roadmap for the popularization of electric vehicles in Hong Kong while promoting the re-industrialization of Hong Kong.

This ground-breaking collaboration with Hong Kong-based upstream and downstream semiconductor companies to harness their innovative technologies to jointly develop a high-performance, high-power SiC electronic module will drive innovative electric drive technology that will support an impending popularization of EVs and could usher in a new chapter in Hong Kong’s re-industrialisation efforts, the Senior Director of integrated circuits and systems technology at ASTRI said.

The development and popularization of electric vehicles will become a major trend. The government announced last year to formulate a roadmap for the promotion of electric vehicles in Hong Kong. It will stop the new registration of fuel-powered private cars, including hybrid vehicles, by 2035. The government will also update its environmental protection procurement policy.

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