The number of third-generation semiconductor patents, China has surpassed the United States

By Hotenda

Since the birth of semiconductors, semiconductor materials have been continuously upgraded. The first generation of semiconductor materials mainly refers to silicon (Si) and germanium (Ge) semiconductor materials, which have been widely used in integrated circuits, computers, mobile phones, aerospace, various military engineering and other fields.

The second generation of semiconductor materials mainly refers to compound semiconductor materials such as gallium arsenide (GaAs), indium antimonide (InSb); ternary compound semiconductors such as GaAsAl, GaAsP; and some solid solution semiconductors such as Ge-Si, GaAs- GaP; glass semiconductor (also known as amorphous semiconductor), such as amorphous silicon, glass-state oxide semiconductor; organic semiconductor, such as phthalocyanine, copper phthalocyanine, polyacrylonitrile, and the like.

The second generation of semiconductor materials are mainly used to produce high-speed, high-frequency, high-power and light-emitting electronic devices. They are excellent materials for making high-performance microwave, millimeter-wave devices and light-emitting devices. Due to the rise of information highways and the Internet, it is also widely used in satellite communications, mobile communications, optical communications and GPS navigation.

The third-generation semiconductor materials are mainly wide-bandgap semiconductor materials typified by silicon carbide (SiC), gallium nitride (GaN), zinc oxide (ZnO), diamond, and aluminum nitride (AlN). Compared to first- and second-generation semiconductor materials, third-generation semiconductor materials have wider band gaps, higher breakdown fields, higher thermal conductivity, greater electron saturation, and higher Radiation resistance.

In terms of applications, according to the development of third-generation semiconductors, its main applications are semiconductor lighting, power electronics, lasers and detectors, and four other fields, each with different industry maturity. In the frontier research field, wide bandgap semiconductors are still in the laboratory development stage.

Currently, many countries have included third-generation semiconductor materials in their national plans. The United States and the European Union have established corresponding centers and alliances to develop third-generation power semiconductor power devices.

The Chinese government authorities attach great importance to the research and development of third-generation semiconductor materials and related technologies. Since 2004, the third generation of semiconductor technology research has been deployed and a series of major research projects have been launched. In 2013, the Ministry of Science and Technology clearly listed the third-generation semiconductor materials and their applications as important contents in the “863” plan new material technology project collection guide. In 2015 and 2016, the National Science and Technology Major Special Project 02 also approved the development and application of the third generation of semiconductor power devices.

It is understood that the third generation of semiconductor-related patent applications appeared in the early 20th century. After about 2000, related patent applications began to enter a stage of rapid growth. The United States led the growth of global patents in the early days. The number of applications in China exceeded the United States for the first time in 2010. The number of patent applications in the United States, Japan, China, South Korea, Germany and other countries or regions has increased rapidly.

As of September 30, 2018, the total number of patents in the third-generation semiconductor industry was approximately 87.51 million. The number of applications of silicon carbide, gallium nitride and other metal oxides is relatively close; among them, silicon carbide material power semiconductors and device processes are more popular, and GaN materials have epitaxial growth and photoelectron specific gravity.

Huawei, which has the largest number of 5G patents, also attaches great importance to third-generation semiconductor materials. According to reports, on April 23, 2019, Huawei established a new company called "Haber Technology Investment Co., Ltd.", Huawei Investment Holdings Co., Ltd. is the sole shareholder with a registered capital of 700 million.

Five months after its establishment, Huawei's Hubble Telescope has already started, and has set its sights on the upstream and downstream of the semiconductor industry chain. According to related news, Hubble invested in two recent investments, investing in Shandong Tianyue and Jiehuaite Microelectronics.

Both companies belong to the semiconductor industry, of which Shandong Tianyue is China's third-generation semiconductor material silicon carbide leading enterprise, and Jiewate Microelectronics is mainly engaged in power management chip design. For a long time, Huawei has focused on IC design in the semiconductor industry. In the context of Sino-US trade wars, everyone is competing for semiconductor discourse rights. Hubble’s shareholding in Shandong Tianyue and Jiehuate also means that Huawei has begun to enter the semiconductor industry chain Upstream and downstream.

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