With the release of the iPhone X, Apple has created a real and vast enthusiasm for GaAs based VCSELs for innovative 3D sensing function. Apple’s technical choice directly impacted the VCSEL industry with more than 3.3 billion units in 2023 with a 31% CAGR between 2017 and 2023. Similarly, the GaAs photonics market is expected to grow at a 37% CAGR from 2017 – 2023, reaching close to $150M by 2023, giving a new breath for GaAs substrates and epiwafer suppliers, after a quiet period due to the saturation of the mobile handset industry.
In their new reports VCSEL- Technology, Industry and Market Trends and GaAs Wafer & Epiwafer Market: RF, Photonics, LED and PV Applications, Yole Développement proposes a comprehensive analysis of the VCSEL industry and an overview of the GaAs wafer and epi wafer industry. These reports outline Yole’s understanding of the industrial landscape, its evolution as well as the technical challenges of GaAs VCSEL devices at substrate, epitaxy and device level.
Yole Développement’s analysts, Pierrick Boulay, Technology & Market Analyst specialized in Solid State Lighting including VCSELs, Dr. Hong Lin, Senior Technology & Market Analyst and Dr. Ezgi Dogmus, Technology & Market Analyst, both specialized in Compound Semiconductors, recently had the opportunity to share their vision of the industry with Somit Joshi, Senior Director of Marketing, Compound Semi Group at Veeco.
Hong Lin: Veeco is one of the key equipment suppliers for MOCVD. Please introduce Veeco, its product line, history and current activity.
Somit Joshi: Veeco designs, manufactures and markets thin film process equipment that enables high-tech electronic device production and development all over the world. Since our IPO in 1994, we have delivered innovative MOCVD, MBE, lithography, laser annealing, ion beam, single wafer etch and clean equipment and related technologies that play an integral role in the development of advanced Compound Semiconductor products for solid-state lighting and displays, photonics for sensing and data communications and fabrication of advanced semiconductor devices for logic, memory as well as power and RF applications. Veeco’s history of MOCVD equipment dates back to 2000 with the E300 GaN MOCVD system. In 2001 Veeco introduced the K450 As/P MOCVD system. Since then, Veeco has released a steady stream of MOCVD systems that have increased capacity and production while lowering cost of ownership. Veeco’s most recent GaN MOCVD system is the EPIK 868, the LED industry’s highest batch productivity MOCVD system that reduces cost per wafer approximately 22% compared to previous generations. Veeco also has developed single wafer reactor based Propel MOCVD systems to accelerate the development of Gallium Nitride (GaN) based power electronic and RF devices.
(Courtesy of Veeco)
Ezgi Dogmus: Can you tell our readers what Veeco’s involvement in the GaAs market is?
SJ: Veeco has always been in the GaAs market. Our proprietary TurboDisc® technology originated with GaAs epi growth in the mid-1980s. Veeco’s technology was in the forefront of world-class results from researchers across the globe in the early days before migrating the technology to high volume production in the mid-1990s. These innovations allow Veeco customers to improve compositional uniformity and dopant control while reducing cost-per-wafer by up to 20 percent compared to alternative systems through higher productivity, best-in-class yields and lower operating expenses. Application areas include lighting, triple junction solar cells, GaAs and InP lasers, detectors, laser diodes, vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), pseudomorphic high electron mobility transistors (pHEMTs) and heterojunction bipolar transistors (HBTs).
Pierrick Boulay: What is Veeco’s GaAs product portfolio? What is the related roadmap?
SJ: As outlined in our responses above, Veeco is continually investing in technology that will enable our customers’ roadmaps and we will support their needs for capacity expansion in the future. Expanding on this from a broader portfolio standpoint:
- Veeco’s TurboDisc technology enables the industry’s leading As/P MOCVD systems with excellent uniformity and repeatability over long campaigns without maintenance, suitable for high volume VCSEL production. These systems are capable of producing the highest yield with up to 30% higher throughput and 20% lower cost of ownership as compared to the previous platform. The ‘uniform by design’ FlowFlange provides ease of tuning which allows fast recovery within 2 runs after maintenance. Veeco’s TurboDisc technology inherently provides highest productivity through the combination of up to 2x higher growth rates and up to 40% higher uptime, delivering the most efficient capital investment for maximum profitability.
- Our Sapphire™ platform is used in various lithography steps in VCSEL production. Customers choose our platform because of our extensive process capability that extends well below 1µm and our proven, cost-effective HVM solutions.
- Our WaferStorm® platform is used for Metal Lift Off and PR strip steps. We are POR at leading VCSEL manufacturers today. Customers choose our platform because of our ImmJET Technology. The immersion followed by spray enables complete removal for difficult to remove resists at a high throughput and low cost of ownership.
Hong Lin: What, in your opinion, is the added-value of Veeco’s GaAs equipment?
SJ: In general, combining our TurboDisc technology and patented gas injection technology offers the best performance and productivity. This includes excellent wiw, w2w and r2r uniformity, sharp interfaces between complex layers, fast gas residence time to sweep out the chemistries, clean reactor technology for minimum defectivity and dopant memory effect, clean access for in-situ wafer temperature control devices, fast carrier exchange via robot to minimize reactor idle time, fast growth rates for short recipe times, excellent reliability for high uptime, etc.
Ezgi Dogmus: Are there dedicated technical specifications or different needs required for GaAs applications, compared to Silicon based substrate?
SJ: Most of our standard epi is grown on GaAs, InP or Ge substrates.
Pierrick Boulay: Are there any specific functions to be added to GaAs equipment compared to an Si dedicated tool?
SJ: For GaAs processes, temperature uniformity is critical as well as compositional uniformity since our epi involves the growth of binary, ternary and quaternary layers. Also, a MOCVD tool will have a much larger gas panel as we use Ga, In, Al, As, PH3, Si, Mg, Zn and/or C in our process.
Hong Lin: Veeco is one of the leaders in MOCVD for GaN as well. What are the key differences in terms of equipment features between GaN and GaAs?
SJ: GaN is a high temperature process (>1000*C), whereas GaAs is a medium temperature process (<750*C). In GaN, the nitrogen used in the growth of GaN comes from ammonia (NH3). Care must be used in the selection of reactor components as ammonia is aggressive and can attack certain materials. Therefore, we use different reactor components for GaN processes vs GaAs processes.
(Courtesy of Veeco)
Ezgi Dogmus: Can you explain to our readers the key parameters for epi growth for GaAs VCSELs and EELs?
SJ: For VCSELS, the key parameters are excellent within wafer, wafer to wafer and run to run thickness uniformity of the DBR and MQW layers as well as the Fabry-Perot cavity dip uniformity. Also important for VCSELs are the compositional and doping uniformity as well as background carbon and oxygen levels. The epi films must also have very low defectivity. For EELs, the above is also true except EELs do not use DBR layers, therefore this parameter is not required.
Pierrick Boulay: What are the next applications that will drive the GaAs wafer and epiwafer markets?
SJ: Near to long-term:
- Fine pitch LED for Displays
- Photonics (3D sensing)
- Other consumer laser market (surveillance etc)
- pHEMTs for 5G RF
Hong Lin: How do you foresee the evolution of the GaAs epiwafer market in the industrial landscape in the coming years?
SJ: It is possible that VCSEL arrays be used for industrial thermal process (annealing, drying, melting, curing) because of it advantage in lifetime, power density, control and reliability. This timing is uncertain but with this “new waves of demand” (as detailed previously) happening, the capacity add could trigger more applications to adopt VCSEL in the coming years.
Somit Joshi has served as the senior director of marketing of Veeco’s MOCVD business unit since 2015. He leads all aspects of go-to-market planning and execution for the company’s range of leading MOCVD equipment for the power semiconductor industry. Previously, Joshi was the director of marketing & product management of the Wafer Inspection Group at KLA-Tencor. Joshi earned an MBA from Southern Methodist University and a master’s degree in science from the University of Central Florida. He received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, India.
Dr. Hong Lin works at Yole Développement (Yole), as a Technology and Market Analyst, Compound Semiconductors within the Power & Wireless division since 2013. She is specialized in compound semiconductors and provides technical and economic analysis. Before joining Yole Développement, she worked as R&D engineer at Newstep Technologies. She was in charge of the development of cold cathodes by PECVD for visible and UV lamp applications based on nanotechnologies. She holds a Ph.D in Physics and Chemistry of materials.
As a Technology & Market Analyst, Compound Semiconductors, Dr. Ezgi Dogmus is member of the Power & Wireless division at Yole Développement (Yole). She is daily contributing to the development of these activities with a dedicated collection of market & technology reports as well as custom consulting projects. Prior Yole, Ezgi was deeply involved in the development of GaN-based solutions at IEMN (Lille, France). Ezgi also participated in numerous international conferences and has authored or co-authored more than 12 papers. Upon graduating from University of Augsburg (Germany) and Grenoble Institute of Technology (France), Ezgi received her PhD in Microelectronics at IEMN (France).
As part of the Photonics, Sensing & Display division at Yole Développement (Yole), Pierrick Boulay works as Market and Technology Analyst in the fields of LED, OLED and Lighting Systems to carry out technical, economic and marketing analysis. He has experience in both LED lighting (general lighting, automotive lighting…) and OLED lighting. In the past, he has mostly worked in R&D department for LED lighting applications. Pierrick holds a master degree in Electronics (ESEO – France).
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