The emergence of compound semiconductors based on SiC, GaN, GaAs, and InP is providing enhanced performance and revealing new applications
The compound semiconductor industry is emerging in parallel to silicon-based semiconductors, providing both improved performance for power and RF devices as well as new functionalities that are not accessible to silicon (light emission). This is an entire industry with its own equipment for crystal growth, wafer manufacturing, front-end manufacturing (epitaxy, wafering), testing, and packaging, with incredible growth supporting key societal and industrial trends. The electrification of transport is optimized by the use of SiC- and GaN-based power devices; telecommunications infrastructure needs GaN RF devices to provide sufficient bandwidth for 5G and 6G and for the new generation of imaging radar, lasers, LEDs, and VCSELs that are the key devices for lighting and optical communications, as well as sensing in cars, data centers, mobile phones…
Because these devices differ from silicon-based devices (when they exist), they need to be specifically designed to realize the increased performance. Modules need to be re-engineered with different designs, materials, test procedures… adding both complexity and value to this industry.
The ecosystem is global: companies across all continents support this industry, with players in Asia leading in optoelectronic devices (in Japan, Taiwan, and China), power electronic giants in Europe and the United States, and most of the RF device leaders spread across the United States, Japan, and China. The same is true for substrates, for equipment, for manufacturing plants…, all spread across the world. No region dominates the entire supply chain, so cooperation is interrelated with competition.
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