Epitaxy: our core business

Our core business is "Epitaxy"

Epitaxy Definition

IQE's core business is the manufacture of compound semiconductor wafers or "epiwafers" using a process called epitaxy.

The epitaxial growth process is a nanotechnology whereby complex atomic structures are produced under strictly controlled conditions. The end product is a pure, crystaline semiconductor wafer (substrate) upon which complex structures comprising many individual atomic layers.


These epitaxial layers uniquely define the wireless, photonic and electronic performance of our epiwafers which are then processed by our customers to produce the "chips" that are found in virtually all of today's technology devices and gadgets.

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Without the compound semiconductor wafers that IQE produce, there would be no smartphones, high speed internet, satellite navigation or WiFi.

What is epitaxy? 

Epitaxy is the first stage in the process of manufacturing the critical components in a wide range of devices from mobile handsets to solar cells and LEDs, and it requires high specification cleanrooms, sophisticated production tools and high levels of intellectual property.

IQE produces atomically engineered layers of crystalline materials containing a variety of semiconductor materials such as gallium, arsenic, aluminium, indium and phosphorous.


The layers are grown onto a crystal substrate or wafer and the finished product containing the wafer and its atomically modified surface is known as an epiwafer.

It is the number of layers, their atomic composition and the order in which they are grown that determines the precise physical, electronic and optical properties of the material.

An epiwafer can include hundreds of individual layers, each of which may be as thin as two or three atoms.

IQE's intellectual property (IP) or know-how is the science  and technology behind the materials and the way in which the atomic structures can be manufactured to yield the wide range of electronic, photonic and electronic properties that are essential in today's electronically enabled age.

Customers fabricate IQE's epiwafers into "chips" which then form the heart of a  variety of products.