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The paper reports the results of a joint R&D project between INFN Pisa and STMicroelectronics aiming at the development of silicon micro-strip detectors with very high breakdown voltage. Several series of prototypes have been manufactured on 6-in-diameter n-type silicon wafers. The production technology was tuned for the standard high volume production lines and was optimized to reach a high processing yield while maintaining very good detector performance. We present a complete characterization of the devices in terms of leakage current, depletion voltage, quality and uniformity of coupling capacitors and polysilicon resistors. We discuss the main design rules and the most important technological steps which led to breakdown voltage systematically exceeding 1000 V even for very large area detectors.