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Trifortune Purchases Aixtron System for GaN LEDs on Substrates other than Sapphire
LIGHTimes News Staff

April 22, 2014...Trifortune Electronic Technology Co. Ltd. of Jintan City, China, has reportedly ordered Aixtron’s AIX G5 HT system to develop gallium nitride based high brightness LEDs. Trifortune wants the AIX G5 HT system configured for 56×2-inch wafers per run. Aixtron’s team will install the system at Trifortune’s R&D center in the Jiangsu area. The company plans to transfer the developed process to mass production after successfully completing the research.

Dr. Hu, Technical Head of Trifortune, commented, “We are developing GaN processes to grow LEDs on substrates that offer some advantages compared to the well-established sapphire substrates. To compete in the HB-LED market, there is a real need to achieve the maximum yield in our manufacturing process, so that products with better performance in lumen per dollar can be established.”

Osram Selects Altatech’s Inspection and Metrology System
LIGHTimes Staff

April 15, 2014...Altatech, a subsidiary of Soitec, of Montbonnot, France, reported that Osram Opto Semiconductors ordered its Orion LedMax wafer inspection and metrology system. Altatech says that Osram will use the tool to improve the yield, performance, and cost efficiency of its LED-processing. The Orion LedMax inspection system is for both R&D and volume manufacturing applications. Osram will use the system to perform production control and new product qualification of its epitaxial wafers used in fabricating LEDs

The Orion system can inspect wafers from four inches to eight inches in diameter and combines the capabilities of 2D inspection, defect height measurement and dark-field inspection in one platform. According to Altatech, this solution outperforms more expensive systems by generating more information than only diffracted light signature. The system reportedly identifies potentially critical defects amid noisy backgrounds and delivers superior matching performance, while reducing system maintenance costs. Orion can perform incoming wafer qualification, process development, and line monitoring. Proprietary Orion modules can detect, count and classify defects on patterned and unpatterned wafers for front side and back side surface inspection, edge inspection, bump and through-silicon-via (TSV) metrology.

“After a very extensive evaluation of available options, Osram’s selection of our Orion system confirms both the performance and the cost efficiency of our solution,” said Jean-Luc Delcarri, general manager of Soitec’s Altatech subsidiary. “The integrated functions of our holistic inspection systems are unique and unmatched in any other suppliers’ production tools.”

Yole Development Predicts New Wave of MOCVD Equipment Purchases with Big-Three Dominance Continuing
LIGHTimes News Staff

April 10, 2014...Yole Development forecasts a new wave of investment in MOCVD equipment for LED fabrication in 2014 through 2016. The market for LEDs for general lighting will drive this wave of investment, according to Yole. Unlike the overly optimistic run of MOCVD investment in the business in 2010 to 2011, based upon expectations of the LCD display market, improvement in equipment throughput and yields as well as increased competition and industry consolidation will limit the impact of the latest investment cycle.

Three companies will continue to monopolize the market. Aixtron, Veeco, and Tayo Nippon Sanso had about 97 percent market share among them in 2013. Yole predicts that the equipment market will peak at about $580 million in 2015 with MOCVD reactors representing more than 80 percent of the total. Yole indicated that Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers are purchasing the bulk of these MOCVD reactors as they switch to 4" systems.

Yole notes that LED epitaxy requires dedicated tools supplied by companies that have much knowledge about fabricating LEDs. According to Yole, more than 20 entrants (mostly from Asia) into the MOCVD reactor business since 2010 have attained little success. Their total market contribution rose from 2 percent in 2010 to just 3 percent in 2013.

Yole cites two reasons for these company's unsuccessful entrance into the market. First, the new entrants have missed the first two LED growth cycles (small display and large display applications) that have allowed the main three to build expertise and their networks (sales offices, training centers, etc.). Even big names, such as Applied Materials, was not able to access these markets. Secondly, revenue from the 2010 to 2011 investment cycle, which included a total of more than $2 billion for MOCVD reactors, have allowed Aixtron and Veeco to slash prices and start a price war with which others can not compete.

Decreasing the cost of ownership is the main strategy that new entrants into the MOCVD market are adopting, Yole says. MOCVD Equipment makers can reduce the cost of ownership with innovations such as a new heating system, new gas flow design, and increased automation. Yole does not expect new entrants to have a substantial increase in future market share as the expertise and capital of Aixtron and Veeco (the Big Two) far surpass their competitors.

In the short term, Yole anticipates only two types of MOCVD equipment suppliers (outside of the Big three) will survive. These are suppliers that collaborate with some big LED manufacturers and Chinese suppliers that can scrape together pieces of the huge local market.

Sapphire Market to Diversify as LEDs Move to Silicon, IHS Predicts
LIGHTimes News Staff

March 18, 2014...In November 2013, IHS Inc. predicted a 40 percent penetration of gallium nitride-on-silicon (GaN-on-Si) into the GaN LED market by 2020. Notably, only a few companies currently manufacture silicon-based LEDs. However, IHS forecasts that these few companies and others entering the market are likely to ramp production capacity over 2014, at a lower price than conventional LED chips. IHS predicts that this lower price point will result in a shift towards silicon LED chips.

The company says that since 2011, many sapphire ingot producers have entered the LED market, and have steadily expanded production capacity. IHS points to rumors in the industry that many of the major suppliers have no room for for capacity growth, and some smaller companies want to exit the market.

IHS says that the shift to silicon wafers and increased competition is likely to force sapphire ingot and wafer suppliers to make some hard decisions to remain in business. One option is to diversify into other markets such as a protection covers for consumer electronic devices (i.e. smartphones, digital camera and tablets).

Sapphire has a higher dielectric constant and better medium-wave infrared transparency than glass and is also the second hardest material after diamond. In September 2013, Apple Inc. filed a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that revealed the company's intention to add sapphire laminate to future devices. This could give the new iPhone 6, 4th generation iPad, and iWatch a stronger, scratch resistant. The home button fingerprint sensor of the iPhone 5s already uses sapphire crystal. IHS contends that other smartphone and tablet manufacturers are likely to follow suit.

NRL Scientists Make Computational Models of LED "Droop" Effect and Suggest Method to Combat It
LIGHTimes News Staff

February 20, 2014...Scientists at NRL's Center for Computational Materials Science, in collaboration with researchers at the Technion, Israel, and Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute, Russia, have created computational models showing that the observed droop effect arises from non-radiative Auger recombination of the injected carriers. The rate of the Auger recombination is proportional to the cube of the carrier concentration. As a result, the noradiative Auger decay rate grows rapidly with current density, quenching the generation of light.

The scientists suggested a method that could significantly increase the efficiency of green-blue-ultraviolet light-emitting diodes based on GaInN/GaN, AlGaN/GaN, and AlInN/GaN quantum wells. They published this research in the January 25 and November 26, 2013 issues of Applied Physics Letters.

In order to suppress these non-radiative Auger processes that cause the dreaded "droop" in efficiency as drive current increases, the scientists suggest that one needs to create quantum wells with a soft confinement potential. Dr. Alexander Efros, a senior researcher in NRL's Materials Science and Technology Division, previously showed theoretically that a softened electrostatic potential prevents carriers from acquiring the momentum necessary for nonradiative Auger processes, and thus suppresses the Auger decay rate which causes "droop". This concept was patented by NRL in March 2013. In their latest calculations, the NRL-Technion-Ioffe research team demonstrated that softening the confinement potential through the varying the alloy composition along the growth direction can completely suppresses the piezoelectric field that normally enhances nonradiative Auger processes in GaN/AlN QWs, thus the droop effect in such quantum wells can be significantly or even completely suppressed.

Rubicon Technology to Showcase Large-Diameter Patterned Sapphire Substrates (PSS) at LED Korea 2014
LIGHTimes News Staff

February 13, 2014...Rubicon Technology, Inc. of Bensenville, Illinois USA, a provider of sapphire substrates and products to the LED market, announced that it will showcase large-diameter patterned sapphire substrates (PSS) as well as its line of 6”polished sapphire wafers for the LED industry at LED Korea 2014 at COEX, Seoul, Korea, February 12-14, 2014. Rubicon will exhibit its line of sapphire products in Booth #4707.

The company notes that most high-brightness LED manufacturers etch a pattern into the sapphire wafers in order to both improve epitaxial growth and extract more light from each chip. Rubicon says that its patterned sapphire substrates have been available for purchase in smaller diameters from other companies, but claims that it is the first company to offer 6” and 8” patterned sapphire substrates. Rubicon points out that it offers 4", 6", and 8" patterned sapphire substrates for LED chip manufacturers.

“Rubicon Technology continues to pioneer innovations in sapphire substrates,” said Raja M. Parvez, president and CEO, Rubicon Technology. “As the world’s most experienced provider of 6-inch sapphire wafers, Rubicon is uniquely positioned to drive the evolution of substrates – patterning large diameter sapphire substrates. This advance helps LED manufacturers gain the efficiency of larger diameters, combined with the industry’s most precise patterning capability, all from a supplier known for quality and reliability at high volume.”

Rubicon offers fully customizable sub-micron patterning capability with dimensional tolerances, within ±0.1 µm. The company reportedly maximizes usable area with an edge exclusion zone as small as 1 mm. Patterning comes in a range of shapes including: cone, dome and pyramid, and in a variety of orientations.

Arima Optoelectronics Launches LED Di on Molybdenum Substrates
LIGHTimes News Staff

February 11, 2014...Arima Optoelectronics during the second half of 2013, launched red and yellow LED di on silicon substrates. The company leveraged its "laser cutting on silicon substrate" patents. The company has now launched LED di on Molybdenum (MO) substrates.Noteably, MO substrates have better heat conductivity than silicon or GaAs. The company says its new epitaxial technology and mask design allow the di on MO substrates to withstand higher application drive current. The new Molybdenum substrate LED di in the 14 mil chip size, exhibits a stable performance under 150mA driving current. These new generation MO substrated LED dice are now available in 14, 20 and 42 mils. (1 mil=.0254 mm).

Micro Modular Updates AT100 Test Machine for Production of COB LEDs
LIGHTimes News Staff

February 4, 2014...The AT100 test machine is Micro Modular's core production line for COB LEDs. According to the company, the AT100 system allows a fully automated, in-production optical & electrical test program for each LED on a substrate or for singulated LEDs. Its modular design combines the optical test hardware with process modules, like a camera-based dim test for die evenness, a laser marking for unit ID and more. The system's design reportedly allows easy and economical customization of the machine and production line for different process steps and production requirements.

Micro Modular's AT100 offers a wide variety of possible sphere diameters. The units on the substrate can be tested separately with the option of a temperature controlled test fixture. The system has a new fixture design that shields the substrates from environmental influences during the test. A special coating on the substrate fixture further increases the accuracy of the test result.

While the AT100 was fully designed around the conveyor, the newly designed transfer stations allow parallel testing of more LED units and larger substrate sizes. The station is said to be easily adjustable to different substrates for product changes. These transfer stations significantly increase the positioning accuracy for denser substrates and ultimately leads to a large increase in UPH in substrates per hour. The company also optimized the tester software UI for the automated production run, with updates on user management, result reporting and programming of test flows.

The input and output options include magazines or conveyor for substrates, as well as tubes and trays for units singulated before test. MMS also offers as complement the singulation and sorting machine AB330, in a modular design with further marking and inspection options and the MOL42 degas & curing machine.

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