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LED manufacturers pushing gallium nitride-on-silicon

Silicon should overpower the sapphire and gallium nitride substrate markets with its reduced costs

As the LED market faces the challenges of softening demand, reduced government subsidies and rapidly declining pricing, manufacturers must investigate new techniques to improve cost structure. 

Most of the LEDs currently produced use a GaN-on-sapphire manufacturing process.

The Strategy Analytics GaAs and Compound Semiconductor Technologies Service (GaAs) viewpoint, “Compound Semiconductor Industry Review February 2012: Optoelectronics, Materials and Equipment,” provides details of two companies that have purchased equipment from Veeco Instruments to develop less costly GaN-on-silicon fabrication processes, SemiLEDS and Epistar.

The report also captures announcements for companies such as Soitec, Aixtron, AXT, Hitachi Cable, JDSU, Sharp, Furukawa, Finisar, Oclaro, Emcore, GigOptix, IQE and Avago Technologies.

“Gallium Nitride is creating a lot of product and process development activity across a number of RF, power electronics and LED markets,” observes Eric Higham, Director of the Strategy Analytics GaAs and Compound Semiconductor Technologies Service. “The goal is to find lower cost ways to manufacture LEDs. For some manufacturers, that means replacing sapphire with silicon.”

Asif Anwar, Director, Strategy Analytics Strategic Technologies Practice adds, “While there are many processing challenges that remain to be solved, we are also seeing some very interesting product results from companies like Nitronex, EPC and International Rectifier for applications in the RF and high power electronics markets.”

Other organisations pursuing GaN-on-silicon include Soraa, imec, Plessey and Azzurro.
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