GaN-on-Si taking over LEDs

11dec13PlesseyGen2Leds 500The penetration of gallium nitride-on-silicon (GaN-on-Si) wafers into the LED market is forecast to increase at a CAGR of 69% from 2013 to 2020, by which time they will account for 40% of all GaN LEDs manufactured, according to a new report from IHS.

In 2013, 95% of GaN LEDs will be manufactured on sapphire wafers, while only 1% will be manufactured on silicon wafers. The growth in the manufacturing of GaN-on-Si LEDs between 2013 and 2020 will take market share from both sapphire and silicon carbide wafers.

“Manufacturing large ingots made from sapphire is difficult, whereas silicon wafers are available from 8 inches up to 12 inches and are generally cheaper and more abundant,” says Dkins Cho, senior analyst for lighting and LEDs at IHS. “There is a large pre-existing industry for silicon-based manufacturing that is leveraged to create economies of scale and reduce the cost of an LED.”

Repurposing manufacturing facilities to accommodate the shift toward GaN-on-Si LEDs is generally accepted to require minimal investment. Companies that previously manufactured CMOS semiconductors already own legacy 8-inch CMOS fabrication units that can be converted for LED production with a small modification. These companies already have in-house expertise and technology associated with silicon-based processes.

“Many of the CMOS semiconductor manufacturers already have excellent inspection tools, unlike traditional LED companies,” Cho says, “this could help increase their process yield through in-situ monitoring. However, it is unlikely the repurposing will happen overnight; instead we forecast a shift during the coming years.”

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