Founded in 1958 in Kyoto, Japan, the ROHM Group is now a global player and supplier to the electronics industry. The company produces a wide range of electronic solutions – from the ultra low power microcontroller, power management ICs, Standard ICs, SiC Diodes, MOSFETs and Modules, Power Transistors and Diodes, LEDs to passives components such as Resistors, Tantalum Capacitors and LED display units, and thermal Printheads. As a vertically integrated semiconductor manufacturer, ROHM is largely independent of suppliers and can respond more flexibly to market changes. 

ROHM Semiconductor Europe, founded in 1971, with Headquarters in Willich near Düsseldorf, Germany, is represented by eight offices in six countries today: Germany, France, UK, Spain, Finland and Italy. Additionally, ROHM’s production facility SiCrystal, located in Nuremberg, Germany, supplies the global markets with silicon carbide wafers.

ROHM’s European business both serves the needs of automotive and industrial application areas. “For example, car manufacturers strongly demand our silicon carbide devices for their production of electric cars. In addition, we also see exciting projects in the industrial field and expect a major growth in Europe – particularly in the area of infrastructure for e-mobility and alternative energies,” says Wolfram Harnack, President of ROHM Semiconductor Europe.

The company’s customer focus in Europe is also reflected in the Power Lab, a modern laboratory for power electronics at the EU headquarters in Willich. It offers ROHM’s European customers important technical support at the application level on site. “With our , Application and Technical Solution Center’ and the Power Lab, our competent team of experts supports our customers locally to make their products even better – with know-how as well as state-of-the-art equipment and special measurements,” explains Aly Mashaly, Director of ROHM’s European Application and Technical Solution Center.

ROHM’s power component development strategy

The company’s European business activities aim to accelerate social contribution. “We focus on power and analog solutions and contribute to our customers’ needs for energy saving and downsizing of their products,” states Wolfram Harnack.

In 2021, ROHM defined its “Environmental Vision 2050”. Based on the three themes of “climate change”, “resource recycling” and “coexistence with nature”, ROHM supports the core requirement of net zero emissions by 2050.

ROHM focuses on providing sustainable and energy-efficient products and complete solutions for various applications in the automotive and industrial sectors. The company places a special focus on the area of power electronics. 

They started with the fundamental development of SiC MOSFETs in 2002. The company has expanded its capital investment and product development activities as it believes in the potential of SiC power devices. These are expected to become the most important devices for energy savings. In 2009, SiC wafer manufacturer SiCrystal – based in Nuremberg, Germany – was incorporated into the ROHM Group, creating an integrated production system for SiC power devices. ROHM thus laid the foundation for the development of high-quality components and a stable supply.

In 2010, ROHM started mass production of SiC Schottky Barrier Diodes (SBD) and SiC MOSFETs. In 2012, power modules were added to the portfolio and in 2015, ROHM became the first company to start mass production of SiC MOSFETs with trench structure. In addition, ROHM started production of SiC SBDs in 2012 and SiC MOSFETs for the automotive sector, where strict quality requirements apply, in 2018.

As for production, ROHM is working with an integrated production system not only to improve production efficiency by increasing SiC wafer diameters and introducing advanced equipment. The company is also ensuring that 100% of the power supply for SiC wafer production comes from renewable sources.

As a leading SiC power semiconductor company, the company is pushing the development of industry-leading and innovative devices. The company’s solutions, which combine a variety of product types and peripheral components such as gate driver ICs and AC/DC converter ICs in surface-mount packages with integrated 1700 V SiC MOSFET, depending on the application, are used in a wide range of applications. In the automotive sector, research tailored to customer needs and market trends is an important factor.

In addition to the investments in the Application and Technical Solution Center and the Power Lab, ROHM is also adapting its production capacity to the increasing demand for SiC power semiconductors.

Outlook: ROHM’s fourth generation SiC product line

ROHM has set itself the goal of achieving strong growth in automotive sectors and markets worldwide over the next ten years. For example, the company aims to more than quintuple both SiC device and gate driver IC production capacity between March 2020 and March 2025. During this period, ROHM will invest a total of JPY 60 billion (about 460 million Euros) in these technologies. SiCrystal is preparing to support 8-inch wafers. The Apollo plant already has a production line that can be quickly converted to 8-inch wafers.

Their fourth-generation SiC MOSFETs will be available in 1200-V and also 750-V versions and in a variety of forms including bare chips, modules and discrete packages. Bare chips for traction inverters for mass EV production are currently under development and are expected to be launched in 2022. In addition, new package modules for the industrial and automotive markets will also be ready for the market soon. 

Investment in new plant: Increasing production capacity for SiC power semiconductors

ROHM is increasing its production capacity for SiC power semiconductors with the completion of a new building at its Apollo plant in Chikugo, Japan. The new building is a state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly fab that uses a range of energy-saving technologies in its production facilities and 100 percent of its electricity comes from renewable energy sources. 

Furthermore, SiCrystal GmbH is to run entirely on renewable energy from the next financial year. The goal is to reduce CO2 emissions from purchased electricity at the plant to zero. All important production processes for SiC wafers will then be operated with environmentally friendly, renewable energy.

In the future, the ROHM Group will continue to strive for a stable and environmentally friendly product offering. The key is to closely monitor market conditions, strengthen production capacity in a timely manner, and introduce multi-site manufacturing.