LONDON — STMicroelectronics and Macom Technology Solutions announced an agreement that will improve Macom's access to manufacturing capacity for its gallium nitride-on-silicon technology and enable ST to manufacture its own products based on the technology for the RF energy and RF lighting markets.

The companies said they will develop GaN-on-silicon wafers to be manufactured by ST for Macom's use across an array of RF applications. While expanding Macom's source of supply, the agreement also grants to ST the right to manufacture and sell its own GaN-on-silicon products in RF markets outside of mobile phone, wireless basestation and related commercial telecom infrastructure applications — such as in RF energy for automotive and for RF lighting.

In addition to the access to increased wafer manufacturing capacity, Macom (Lowell, Mass.) said it expects to achieve an improved cost structure that could displace incumbent silicon LDMOS and accelerate the adoption of GaN-on-silicon in mainstream markets.

"Once the $0.04/watt barrier for high power RF semiconductor devices is crossed, significant opportunities for the RF energy market may open up," said Eric Higham, a director at research firm Strategy Analytics. "Potential RF energy device shipments could be in the hundreds of millions for applications including commercial microwave cooking, automotive lighting and ignition, and plasma lighting, with sales reaching into the billions of dollars."

ST and Macom said in a press statement they have been working together for several years to bring GaN-on-silicon production up in ST's CMOS wafer fab. As currently scheduled, sample production from ST is expected to begin in 2018.

— Nitin Dahad is a European correspondent for EE Times.