IQE delivers first 150mm (6”) VCSEL epiwafers for high volume, low cost applications

19 March 2014

Cardiff, UK, 19 March 2014: IQE plc (AIM: IQE; “IQE”, “the Group”), the leading global supplier of advanced semiconductor wafer products and services, announces it has delivered the world’s first 150mm (6”) Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser (VCSEL) epi wafer process for high volume, low cost applications.
Markets for VCSELs are proliferating rapidly as this advanced laser is becoming the device of choice for many high volume applications including:

• Gesture recognition, for gaming and non-contact navigation (e.g TV, smartphone, tablet)

• Depth imaging for 3D vision , driving next wave of handset innovation for must have new phones

• Low energy optical storage and fast switching in high capacity data centres, servers and ultra-high speed computing

• High speed datacomms, including Active Optical Cables (AOC)

• UltraHigh Density magnetic Storage using Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR)

• Illumination for IR cameras for security, safety, night vision

• Industrial heating including paint curing and commercial print shops

• Cosmetics and healthcare including hair removal, antiwrinkle, blemish reduction

A number of these applications require multi-element array configurations which use greater surface areas and therefore more epiwafer material. They also offer higher optical power output compared with discrete devices.

Many of these markets are price elastic, and by moving to 150mm wafer sizes, compatible with existing well established, state of the art 150mm RF GaAs wafer processing lines, high performance VCSELs can be manufactured in large volume using fabrication and testing techniques similar to that of LEDs.

This combination will provide a high volume manufacturing technology and capability to help drive down the cost of VCSEL based photonics products for deployment in mass market, consumer applications.
The significantly improved cost structure will allow designers to utilise the unique operational and performance advantages of laser devices to further develop advanced sensing applications which are expected to drive the next wave of innovation in consumer products such as cell phones, tablets and other handheld devices.
Initial engineering evaluation and product qualification wafers have already been delivered and initial performances have replicated those of existing smaller wafer sizes. Production is expected to ramp over the coming year.

Dr Drew Nelson, IQE CEO, said:
“VCSEL enabled products such as gesture recognition and ‘time of flight’ sensing are expected to ramp significantly over the coming period as they become incorporated into next generation handset and mobile communication devices, as well as a myriad of other high volume applications.
“By introducing our new 150mm VCSEL epiwafer process, which is compatible with existing high volume RF GaAs chip processing lines, we are enabling a new low cost manufacturing route for high performance laser devices.
“IQE has built a powerful technology platform for VCSELs, and recent announcements on record low power consumption VCSELs for datacentres and record high speed data transmission with IBM for datacentres, servers and supercomputers are testament to the strength and depth of this platform.”

IQE (+44 29 2083 9400) Investors/Press Drew Nelson Phil Rasmussen Chris Meadows
Technical/Sales Andrew Joel