IQE’s compound semiconductor on silicon laser materials enable next generation hard disk drive technology

09 October 2012

Cardiff, UK. 9 October 2012: IQE plc (AIM: IQE, “IQE” or the “Group”), the leading global supplier of advanced semiconductor wafer products and services to the semiconductor industry, has produced epitaxial wafers combining the optical properties of compound semiconductors with the electronic properties of silicon to produce high power lasers that enable increased storage density for next generation hard disk drives.

In the last 20 years, typical storage capacities for consumer disk drives have increased by 100,000 times from around 20MB to 2TB. The increased capacity has been achieved through cutting edge research and technological innovation. In order to maintain such staggering increases in capacity whilst maintaining the same footprint, the next generation of disk drives need to be capable of storing more than 1Tb of data per square inch.

Such high density storage is made possible through heat assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), where the heat source is a semiconductor laser device emitting 10mW or more of optical power.

Work published in the August 2012 edition of Nature Photonics (NPHOTON.2012.204) describes the milestone achievement by Tyndall National Institute (University College Cork), Semprius Inc. and Seagate Technology in successfully combining a high power compound semiconductor laser structure with a silicon substrate using Semprius’ proprietary micro-transfer print technology to print epitaxial layers produced by IQE at its Cardiff manufacturing facility. The demonstrated level of optoelectonic integration will allow HAMR to meet growing demand in the high performance, high capacity, and low cost storage markets.

Andrew Joel, Commercial Director for IQE’s optoelectronics division, commented:

“IQE has established a leading position in the supply of MOCVD grown epitaxial layers for photonic applications. Programmes such as this demonstrate how we successfully combine our high volume manufacturing capabilities with leading edge research to support our partners through all stages from development through to production.”

The full article is published at


IQE plc +44 (0) 29 2083 9400
Chris Meadows
Andrew Joel

Note to Editors

 IQE is 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, which 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, ultra high brightness LEDs, a variety of advanced silicon based systems and high efficiency concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) solar cells.

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.

In February 2012, IQE made a strategic investment and exclusive wafer supply agreement with leading edge Concentrated Photovoltaic (“CPV”) cell developer and manufacturer Solar Junction Corporation (“SJC”). The move marked a significant step in its strategy to become a leading global supplier of CPV wafers for the solar power markets.

In June 2012, IQE acquired the in-house MBE epitaxy manufacturing unit of RF Micro Devices and secured a seven-year wafer supply agreement.

IQE operates a number of global manufacturing and R&D facilities: Cardiff, Milton Keynes and Bath in the United Kingdom; Bethlehem (PA), Somerset (NJ), Greensboro (NC) and Spokane (WA) in the USA; and Singapore. The Group also has 11 sales offices located in major economic centres worldwide.