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13 May 2014

IQE joins €23m VIDaP program to establish Europe-based high-volume supply chain for VCSELs

Epiwafer foundry and substrate maker IQE plc of Cardiff, Wales, UK has joined a new consortium to establish a pan-European supply chain capability for the high-volume production of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) for infrared illumination, data communications, gesture recognition and industrial heating applications.

The program’s aim is to establish a Europe-based production capability to bring VCSEL manufacturing to a level comparable to LED and CMOS manufacturing. By bringing together existing high-volume production facilities at IQE, along with key end-users, the consortium will deliver an end-to-end production supply chain offering a significant reduction in the cost-per-function for VCSEL devices by reducing gallium arsenide (GaAs) processing costs whilst increasing device performance.

IQE says that VCSELs are key enabling technologies for a wide range of applications where demand is proliferating rapidly as this type of laser becomes the device of choice for many high-volume applications. These include:

  • gesture recognition, for gaming and non-contact navigation (e.g. TV, smartphone, tablet);
  • depth imaging for 3D vision, using time of flight (ToF) technology, driving the next wave of handset innovation for new phones;
  • production-line heating automation, for which significant operating efficiencies can be achieved using VCSEL technology with applications requiring tens of millions of devices;
  • low-energy optical storage and fast switching in high-capacity data centres, servers and ultra-high-speed computing;
  • high-speed datacoms, including active optical cables (AOC);
  • ultra-high-density magnetic storage using heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR);
  • illumination for IR cameras for security, safety, night vision;
  • other industrial heating applications, including paint curing and commercial print shops; and
  • cosmetics and healthcare, including hair removal, anti-wrinkle, blemish reduction.

IQE says that it has has already demonstrated advances in VCSEL technology including an established 100mm VCSEL process, which has been enhanced by the launch in March of its 150mm VCSEL wafer products for high-volume applications.

The €23m VCSEL Pilot Line for IR Illumination, Datacom and Power Applications (VIDaP) program, whose partners include IQE, Philips, STMicroelectronics, Sick and Sidel, will receive funding under the European Commission’s ENIAC program, with IQE receiving significant support from the Welsh Government.

A key impact of the project will be for Europe to secure a leading global position in what is considered to be a vital and rapidly growing segment of photonics.

“By working with key European partners to establish full pilot manufacturing capabilities for high-volume production, we will bring the same principles and economies of scale that apply to LED and CMOS processes, to photonics applications employing VCSELs,” says IQE’s CEO Dr Drew Nelson.

“IQE has built a powerful technology platform for VCSELs, and recent announcements on our new 150mm process - coupled with achievements such as record low-power consumption and record high-speed data transmission rates - are testament to the strength that IQE will bring to this consortium,” he adds.

“IQE offers a strong track record in the manufacture of compound semiconductor wafers and laser devices, and the consortium also includes a number of end customers who have and will expand the design of VCSELs into their existing and new families of products. The consortium represents product commercialization across a diverse range of applications of VCSELs, demonstrating the great versatility of the technology.”

See related items:

IQE delivers first 150mm VCSEL epiwafers for high-volume, low-cost applications

IQE’s VCSEL epiwafers enable IBM/Chalmers to achieve record 64Gb/s over multimode fiber

IQE’s VCSEL epiwafers used by TU-Berlin for record power efficiencies in optical interconnects

IQE and Chalmers report first 40Gb/s VCSELs operating at up to 85°C for data-centers

TU Berlin demos 980nm VCSELs on IQE material capable of high performance at elevated temperatures

IQE demos 40GB/s VCSEL technology for next-gen optical communications

Tags: IQE

Visit: www.iqep.com

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