Applied Materials on Wednesday released two new tools aimed at improving the efficiency of making a new class of chips for electric vehicles.
Applied is the world's largest maker of tools for making semiconductors. The machines announced on Wednesday are designed for chips made from a material called silicon carbide.
Such chips are gaining traction in electric vehicles like those made by Tesla Inc. because they are more efficient and lighter in weight than standard silicon chips for transmitting power from a car's battery to its motors, helping improve range. Companies like Cree Inc. and ON Semiconductor Corp. are investing in making the chips.
Silicon carbide chips are difficult to manufacture because the material is very hard. They are bulk-manufactured on discs called "wafers" that are later sliced into individual chips. But wafers first must be polished perfectly smooth, or the resulting chips will have defects.