One of the most important European research projects for energy efficiency, “eRamp”, is coming to a close. Over the past three years, 26 partners from business and science have explored innovative electronics components for using energy even more efficiently. Their focus was on the rapid introduction of new production technologies, such as packaging technologies for energy-saving chips. The eRamp project covered the entire power electronics value chain, from generation and transmission all the way to consumption. Infineon, the world market leader in power semiconductors, led the research, which was conducted in six European countries. The project strengthens Germany and Europe as centers of expertise for power electronics.

“The eRamp results have created the prerequisites for keeping the production of power electronics in Europe competitive,” said Dr. Oliver Pyper, Senior Manager of Research, Development and Innovation Programs at Infineon Technologies Dresden and the eRamp project coordinator. “Power electronics guarantee an ever more efficient generation, transmission, and use of electric energy. And it is in this area that eRamp has significantly expanded our expertise in Europe.”

The research results were tested for practical viability directly in the semiconductor production environment. The research partners used existing pilot lines and comprehensive production expertise at five sites:

  • Dresden, Germany and Villach, Austria (power semiconductors based on 300mm wafers; Infineon)
  • Regensburg, Germany (chip packaging technologies for power semiconductors; Infineon)
  • Reutlingen, Germany (power semiconductors, smart power and sensors based on 200mm wafers; Bosch)
  • Unterpremstaetten near Graz, Austria (3D/TSV pilot line; ams)

In addition, Infineon, Osram, and Siemens worked together to construct testing equipment and demonstrators for the evaluation of a new chip embedding technology. The eRamp project will conclude on 31 May 2017.

Europe’s key projects for strengthening the electronics industry

The “eRamp – Excellence in Speed and Reliability for More than More Technologies“ project was financially supported by the European funding initiative ENIAC Joint Undertaking, as well as by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the largest national sponsor. Financial support also came from Austria, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, and the UK. eRamp is part of European research series dedicated to the development of power electronics based on 300mm wafers. Other projects in this series include EPT300, EPPL and PowerBase. In the four projects, a total of roughly 100 project partners is working to strengthen Europe economically and ecologically through the use of power electronics. In 2016, other initiatives were launched to strengthen European microelectronics, among which the IoSense project. It is a sensor technology initiative that is part of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking. As with the eRamp project, it is led by Infineon Dresden.

Background: More energy efficiency through power electronics

Power electronics comprises electronic components and the chips built into them, so-called power semiconductors. Power semiconductors help keep the loss of electrical energy as low as possible. They make sure that the greatest possible amount of energy generated by wind or sun is fed into the power grid and transmitted almost completely without loss over many thousands of kilometers from the generation site to the consumer. They then help minimize power consumption in a wide variety of applications, e.g. in household appliances, illumination technologies, servers and computers, in hybrid and electric drive systems for cars, commercial vehicles, construction and agricultural machines as well as in industrial energy technologies and production facilities.

eRamp: 26 partners from 6 countries

AMS AG (Unterpremstaetten), CISC Semiconductor GmbH (Klagenfurt, Austria), HSEB Dresden GmbH (Dresden), Infineon Technologies (Dresden, Regensburg, Munich, Villach, and Bucharest, Romania), JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft GmbH (Graz), Intel (Villach), Materials Center Leoben Forschung GmbH (Leoben, Austria), NXP Semiconductors (Gratkorn, Austria and Eindhoven, Netherlands), Osram GmbH (Munich), Polymer Competence Center Leoben GmbH (Leoben), Robert Bosch GmbH (Stuttgart, Germany), SGS INSTITUT FRESENIUS (Taunusstein, Germany), Siemens AG (Berlin, Munich), SPTS Technologies Ltd (Newport, UK), Stichting IMEC Nederland (Eindhoven), SYSTEMA Systementwicklung Dipl.-Inf. Manfred Austen GmbH (Dresden), Slovak University of Technology (Bratislava, Slovakia), Technical University Dresden, Technical University Vienna (Austria), University of Innsbruck (Austria), and the West Saxon University of Applied Sciences, Zwickau (Germany).