ST to acquire majority of Exagan for GaN chips used in EV chargers

STMicroelectronics and Hyundai Autron have opened the Autron-ST Development Lab (ASDL)
STMicroelectronics will acquire a majority of Exagan in another move toward making power chips with materials other than silicon, including Gallium Nitride (GaN), to boost efficiency for chargers in electric vehicles and other machines. (Sensors)

STMicroelectronics announced Thursday it is acquiring a majority share in Exagan, a French Gallium Nitride (GaN) innovator, to accelerate ST’s power GaN semiconductor capabilities for auto, industrial and consumer apps. Terms of the deal were not announced.

ST, based in Geneva, had $9.6 billion in 2019 revenues and is the largest chipmaker in Europe. The company made a series of 2019 announcement related to wide-bandgap (WBG) materials such as GaN and Silicon Carbide (SiC) for increased efficiency and improved power density for chips used in various applications.

GaN products can be used in power factor correction and in DC-DC converters used in servers, telecom and industrial apps. The high-frequency operation of GaN chips means they can be used in on-board chargers for electric vehicles and in DC-DC converters for auto apps and personal electronics such as power adapters.

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Exagan, based in Grenoble, France, has specialized since its founding in 2014 in moving power electronics to GaN-on-silicon from purely silicon-based technology. Its GaN power switches are designed to be made in 200-mm wafer fabs.

ST said the signed agreement for the acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and will be funded with cash. ST can also buy the remaining minority portion of Exagan in 24 months. Exagan will stay the course on its product roadmap and be supported by ST.

ST CEO Jean-Marc Chery said the Exagan agreement is another step following in GaN development following a collaboration with semi foundry TSMC, announced in February, and other moves. Last fall, ST announced it is supplying advanced SiC power electronics to Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi for high-speed battery charging in future EVs.

RELATED: GaN systems CEO sees bright future in automotive

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