GlobalFoundries, a company producing feature-rich semiconductor manufacturing, and U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy has announced the award of $30 million in federal funding to advance the development and production of next-generation gallium nitride (GaN) on silicon semiconductors at GF’s facility in Essex Junction, Vermont. With their unique ability to handle significant heat and power levels, GaN semiconductors are positioned to enable game-changing performance and efficiency in applications including 5G and 6G smartphones, RF wireless infrastructure, electric vehicles, power grids, solar energy, and other technologies.
The announcement was made at an event today at GF’s Fab attended by Sen. Leahy, GF President and CEO Dr. Thomas Caulfield, GF Vermont Fab Vice President and General Manager Ken McAvey, Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation President Frank Cioffi, GF Fab team members, and other guests. The $30 million federal funding, secured by Sen. Leahy as an appropriation in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2022, will enable GF to purchase tools and extend development and implementation of 200mm GaN wafer manufacturing. The incorporation of scaled GaN manufacturing into the Fab’s capabilities furthers the facility’s longstanding global leadership in RF semiconductor technology, and positions GF for leadership in making chips for high-power applications including electric vehicles, industrial motors, and energy applications.
“Senator Leahy’s leadership and dedication have been instrumental to the growth and success of semiconductor manufacturing in Vermont,” said Dr. Caulfield. “On behalf of the entire GF team, I thank Senator Leahy for his steadfast support of GF throughout his many years in office. As seen with today’s announcement, he has been a champion of putting this facility on the global forefront of semiconductor manufacturing. With this new federal funding, and the potential for further support in the 2023 federal budget, GF is well-positioned to become a global leader in GaN chip manufacturing—right here in Vermont.”
“Chips used all around the world are made right here in Essex Junction by this dedicated workforce,” said Senator Leahy. “I am extremely proud of that, and it’s something all Vermonters and Americans can take pride in. This funding is an investment in U.S. leadership in improved technology for chips that connect everything around us and power our handheld devices—with GlobalFoundries and Vermonters leading the way.”
This Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) was entered into by the Defense Microelectronics Activity via the Trusted Access Program Office (TAPO) of the U.S. Department of Defense. TAPO’s primary mission is to procure advanced semiconductors for the Departments most critical and sensitive weapons systems platforms. TAPO has been supporting dual-use (both civilian and military applications) GaN on silicon development efforts since 2019 as GaN provides a stable semiconductor suitable in high power, high-frequency devices the DoD needs to maintain technology advantage for the United States. This current development phase plans to leverage previous TAPO successes and continue maturing this dual-use technology.
“GlobalFoundries has been a critical partner to the Trusted Access Program Office, enabling semiconductor assurance (Trust) to advanced semiconductor technologies for the Department’s most advanced weapon systems platforms. This engagement is just one step the DoD is taking to ensure the U.S. has continued access to advanced microelectronics technologies such as gallium nitride,” said DMEA Director Dr. Nicholas Martin.
This $30 million agreement is the latest federal investment to support GaN at GF’s Vermont Fab. In fiscal years 2020 and 2021, Sen. Leahy secured a total of $10 million for research and development related to advancing GaN technology at the facility, paving the way for this new award.
GF’s facility in Essex Junction, Vermont, near Burlington, was among the first major semiconductor manufacturing sites in the United States. Today nearly 2,000 GF employees work at the site, with a manufacturing capacity of more than 600,000 wafers per year. Built on GF’s differentiated technologies, these GF-made chips are used in smartphones, automobiles, and communications infrastructure applications around the world. The Fab is a Trusted Foundry and manufactures secure chips in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, for use in some of the nation’s most sensitive aerospace and defense systems.
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