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Inside the Michigan semiconductor plant, SK Siltron CSS is betting big on electric vehicles

For the past two decades, scientists at a Bay County R&D lab have vaporized silicon carbide inside furnaces at twice the temperature of lava to make chunks of crystal as durable as diamonds. .

It was only recently that many realized that these crystals were the future of EV semiconductors.

That’s why SK Siltron CSS, a subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate SK Group, is investing more than $300 million to quadruple its real estate footprint in Michigan with a 250,000 square foot factory near Bay City, Michigan.

The company bet big with its $450 million purchase of DuPont’s silicon carbide business in 2020. In the two years since the acquisition, the electric vehicle industry has increasingly shift away from traditional silicon for high-power applications to silicon carbide, which transfers electricity more efficiently and improves range – the main concern of most electric vehicle manufacturers.

The industry shift means SK Siltron CSS is sitting on a potential silicon carbide goldmine and can’t build capacity fast enough, said CEO Jianwei Dong, who worked for DuPont before the acquisition and helped to facilitate the transaction.

“We’re sitting on top of a once-in-a-century paradigm shift,” Dong said during a media tour of the Auburn plant and construction site eight miles to the east. “It took us over 20 years to get to where we are today.”

The company held a visit on Wednesday with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and South Korean Commerce Minister Yeo Han-koo to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and show off its new factory. of 250,000 square feet, which should be operational. next month.