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Giant Chinese wafer facility opened

In Shenzhen, the first stage of what may eventually turn out to be the largest compound semiconductor manufacturing base in the world is completed.

by Michael Hatcher
Government officials in China have officially inaugurated the first stage of a massive compound semiconductor epiwafer and chip production base in Shenzhen.

Called Century Epitech Company, Ltd, development of the sprawling site has the backing of both the central Chinese government and the Hong Kong financial group Sunbase.

"Century Epitech will produce epitaxial wafers and raw material for the whole compound semiconductor industrial chain," announced the firm.

Gao Jingde, the Century Epitech chairman, describes the site at the Guangming Hi-tech Industrial Park as China s "only all-around compound semiconductor industrial base".

Spreading over an enormous 3 km2, this site will eventually incorporate five individual "zones".

The epiwafer fab, which represents the first stage of development, was opened in a ceremony featuring bunting and fireworks on October 11. Production of epiwafers for GaAs-based RF components, lasers and LEDs is the initial priority.

Target technologies include all major compound semiconductor applications, from research and development of core materials, through to chip packaging and module production.

One of the base s five zones is focused on optoelectronics, including white LEDs for solid-state lighting, as well as laser diodes for optical data storage and communications. Another zone will be dedicated to microwave communications, while the remaining site areas are reserved for administration, conference facilities and an exhibition center.

According to Jacob Tarn, the general manager of fiber-optic component company Optical Communication Products Asian unit, and also a key player in the Century Epitech project, solar cells and high-power laser diodes for industrial machining applications are two other applications that the base will target.

Driven largely by China s huge and growing energy requirements, and a strategic decision to pursue efficient lighting based on LED technology, III-V wafer production at Century Epitech looks set for a huge expansion.

Tarn told compoundsemiconductor.net that within five years, the base will rival that of key LED manufacturer Epistar in terms of its sheer epiwafer production scale. "There is a huge market in China for LEDs and energy production," Tarn said. "[This development] is strongly supported by the central government and is very important to China."

According to the official Century Epitech web site, the total investment planned for the Shenzhen base will be a remarkable RMB32 billion yuan ($4.3 billion). The epiwafer-focused initial phase that has just been completed is itself the result of a RMB3 billion yuan investment, and signals China's enormous commitment to compound semiconductor technologies.

Century Epitech claims that the facility already features the industry s biggest cleanroom, and expects that the base will, in time, become the largest single compound semiconductor facility in the world.

Michael Hatcher is the editor of compoundsemiconductor.net and Compound Semiconductor magazine.

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