Epiwafer foundry and substrate maker IQE plc of Cardiff, Wales, UK says that its recently constructed Newport Mega Foundry has received its first mass-production order from its existing vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) customer.
Gaining full product qualification status is the result of extensive quality and process audits by the customer and their end OEM, as well as exhaustive product qualification trials including full reliability testing. Qualification of further tools is in progress and is expected to complete over the coming months.
In addition to qualification with this customer, further VCSEL product qualifications are at advanced stages with more than ten other customers, two of which are expected to reach successful conclusion over the next few weeks. IQE says that customer feedback from the additional qualifications confirms the quality and performance from the new facility.
Under construction for the last 18 months, the Newport Mega Foundry is reckoned to be the world’s largest outsource epi facility for compound semiconductors. It currently has ten large-scale production metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) systems installed, with space for up to 90 more. The manufacturing facility also houses an extensive suite of wafer characterization tools to ensure quality.
The first ten systems are dedicated to 6” VCSEL production for end applications that include 3D sensing, high-speed datacoms, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), LiDAR, proximity sensing and time-of-flight (ToF) systems.
The market for VCSELs is expected to grow rapidly over the coming years as 3D sensing is installed across multiple user platforms, including facial recognition, world-facing cameras for augmented reality (AR) and 3D photography, security cameras, industrial sensing and heating, ADAS, LiDAR, high-speed datacoms and proximity sensing.
“IQE has invested heavily, along with help from the Cardiff City Region Deal (CCR), to build the worlds largest outsource epi facility, demonstrating our commitment to providing the capacity required for large-scale deployment of VCSELs and other compound semiconductor (CS) products, as the CS industry moves through a real inflection point in volume manufacture,” says IQE’s CEO & president Dr Drew Nelson.
“IQE is committed to this mass CS scaling, offering a unique range of wafer products and complementary technologies, enabling our customers to introduce disruptive products to the end marketplace,” he adds. “We have a powerful and extensive roadmap for VCSEL technology, which we believe will help the acceleration of the deployment of VCSELs across many end applications.”
IQE is also developing integrated solutions using wafer processing technologies such as nanoimprint lithography (NIL) and quasi photonic crystals (QPC) to enhance the functionality and performance of VCSEL arrays.
The order and the commencement of production is in line with the IQE’s previously provided revenue guidance for 2019.