Strategic growth and global positioning

IQE's pedigree dates back to 1988 when its first MOCVD based manufacturing operation was established in Cardiff, Wales, UK.

Between 1988 and 1998, the Cardiff based operation underwent steady growth, primarily servicing the optical communications markets with its broad range of optoelectronic products and versatile business model. IQE's optoelectronic products were used by a wide range of customers to produce light emitters and detectors such as LEDs, lasers and photodetectors.

Other applications for the company's products included LEDs, lasers and receivers for a wide range of consumer and office products such as CD and DVD players and recorders, bar code readers, printers and photocopiers.

In 1999, the Cardiff MOCVD operation was complemented by the addition of an established North American facility to form the world's leading epiwafer group offering the widest range of compound semiconductor wafer products.

Based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the US operation focussed on radio frequency (RF) components for the growing mobile communications markets which complemented the range of optical telecommunications products produced by the Cardiff operation.

Shortly after the Cardiff and Bethlehem operations joined forces, the newly formed IQE group underwent an IPO an raised capital for an ambitious expansion programme.

Following its IPO in 1999, the group added an established, UK based substrate manufacturer to its portfolio and also formed a separate facility in Cardiff to concentrate on silicon based epitaxial services.

In 2006, the group's strategy to firmly establish itself as the world leading epiwafer supplier with a truly global manufacturing presence was strengthened when two further manufacturing operations joined the group; the first in Somerset, New Jersey and the second in Singapore, Asia.

The Group added significant new intellectual property to its portfolio in 2009 with the acquisition of NanoGan Ltd., a spin-out of Bath University. This was followed in 2010 with the acquisition of Spokane, WA based Galaxy Semiconductors which significantly extended the group's inra-red product offering of gallium antimonide (GaSb) and indium antimonide (InSb) materials by facilitating access to US markets.

IQE is firmly established as the leading global supplier of advanced semiconductor wafers with products that cover a diverse range of applications, supported by an innovative outsourced foundry services portfolio that allows the Group to provide a 'one stop shop' for the wafer needs of the world's leading semiconductor manufacturers.

IQE uses advanced crystal growth technology (epitaxy) to manufacture and supply bespoke semiconductor wafers ('epi-wafers') to the major chip manufacturing companies, who then use these wafers to make the chips which form the key components of virtually all high technology systems. IQE is unique in being able to supply wafers using all of the leading crystal growth technology platforms.

IQE's products are found in many leading-edge consumer, communication, computing and industrial applications, including a complete range of wafer products for the wireless industry, such as mobile handsets and wireless infrastructure, Wi-Fi, WiMAX, base stations, GPS, and satellite communications; optical communications, optical storage (CD, DVD), laser optical mouse, laser printers & photocopiers, thermal imagers, leading-edge medical products, barcode, high efficiency LEDs and a variety of advanced silicon based systems.

The manufacturers of these chips are increasingly seeking to outsource wafer production to specialist foundries such as IQE in order to reduce overall wafer costs and accelerate time to market.

IQE also provides bespoke R&D services to deliver customised materials for specific applications and offers specialist technical staff to manufacture to specification either at its own facilities or on the customer's own sites. The Group is also able to leverage its global purchasing volumes to reduce the cost of raw materials. In this way IQE's outsourced services, provide compelling benefits in terms of flexibility and predictability of cost, thereby significantly reducing operating risk.

The demand for the supply of compound semiconductors has seen rapid growth, fuelled largely by the increasing demand for feature rich handsets and smartphones. IQE's strategy of investment in worldwide manufacturing bases offers customers the security of supply and the ability to increase capacity in line with demand.

Involvement in a number of government and privately funded development projects ensures that IQE is ideally placed to take advantage of emerging technologies with the potential for rapidly increasing supply demands.

Continually innovating

Throughout its history, IQE has maintained an active culture of innovation.

In recent years IQE reported when a single-mode vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) device using material supplied by IQE, had produced the highest ever recorded power output. IQE's silicon epiwafer facility has also been recognized by the global semiconductor industry by winning the Eurosemi IC Industry Award for "Enabling Materials" for its work on engineered silicon substrates. IQE was also the first supplier to offer commercially available antimonide epitaxial wafers.

In 2007 another world record technology result was achieved using IQE's material, when the University of California in Santa Barbara (UCSB) announced an INP-DHBT with a power-gain cut-off frequency (fmax) of 780GHz. Also in 2007, IQE's New Jersey operation was awarded the highest level achievable by Northrop Grumman's Supplier Rating Program.

IQE's UK-based substrate division has supplied the materials used in an award-winning thermal imaging technology. The group continues to pursue a strategy of investment in emerging technologies, along with an increase in supply capacity to service the growing demands of its customers.

IQE has also been presented with a number of supplier awards, details of which are posted on the news pages of this website.