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IQE, Mojo Vision advance RGB and blue micro-LED development

30 May 2023

Epiwafer foundry releases RGB multi-wavelength platform; Mojo lights up 300 mm GaN-on-silicon wafer for blue emitters.

Two developers of novel micro-LEDs are claiming separate manufacturing breakthroughs for display applications, with the potential to advance mass production of the emerging technology.

IQE, the UK-based epiwafer foundry company, has launched a new portfolio of 200 mm-diameter wafers capable of red-green-blue (RGB) emission. It has recently been working with University of Cambridge spin-out Porotech, to produce novel light emitters based on porous GaN that can be engineered to produce light at wavelengths across the visible spectrum.

Meanwhile Mojo Vision, the Silicon Valley firm that recently raised more than $22 million in support of its quantum-dot emitter structures, says it has produced a 300 mm-diameter GaN-on-silicon wafer hosting an array of blue micro-LEDs.

Although not yet widely deployed, micro-LEDs are being touted by some as a potentially disruptive technology in the displays and augmented reality (AR) sectors, bringing key advantages in terms of brightness, contrast, viewing angle, and aperture ratio.

According to analysts at the consultancy company Yole Intelligence, the main stumbling block is cost, with at least an order-of-magnitude reduction thought to be required before micro-LEDs can compete in consumer applications.

Yole sees micro-LEDs as the only display technology capable of providing the right combination of cost, brightness, efficiency, and size for AR applications - and said earlier this year that realizing full-color RGB microdisplays on the same epiwafer remained a key challenge.

Mass production goal
The latest claims from IQE and Mojo Vision suggest that progress is being made towards mass production of the devices, with the accompanying promise of massive cost reduction.

IQE says that its GaN and GaAs epitaxy will be critical to enabling faster adoption of micro-LEDs, because its high-volume manufacturing platforms and scale ought to yield a commercial advantage.

“The launch of IQE’s differentiated micro-LED wafer products will provide its customers with faster-time-to-market options for display-level qualification,” stated the company, which already produces more conventional epiwafers used widely in the mass production of radio-frequency chips and semiconductor lasers.

“With multi-wavelength solutions available at wafer diameters including new options at 200 mm, IQE is delivering qualified foundry capacity from its multi-continent operations, which is a significant point of difference as it provides customers with epitaxy supply chain diversification,” added the foundry.

Mark Furlong, its executive VP of business development, said: “We are pleased to offer our customers the industry’s broadest range of materials technology platforms for micro-LED display qualification.

“We recognise that IQE can play a critical role in accelerating the deployment of micro-LEDs across many end applications and the launch of this new portfolio is in line with our strategy to diversify into GaN technologies, in the high-growth display market.”

IQE is also looking to scale up to 300 mm-diameter wafers - and further cost reduction - in the future.

300 mm wafers
Mojo claims to have already achieved that wafer size milestone, producing what is said to be the “first ever” 300 mm GaN-on-silicon wafer hosting blue micro-LEDs.

“This accomplishment marks important progress towards maturing micro-LED manufacturing at state-of-the-art 300 mm CMOS fabs,” said the Saratoga startup, which has previously focused on developing compact dynamic displays with extremely high emitter density and image resolution.

“Micro-LEDs provide critical performance, efficiency and form-factor advantages essential to applications in extended reality (XR), wearables, automotive, consumer electronics, and high speed communication.

“Mojo Vision overcame extensive supply chain and wafer qualification issues, such as wafer bow and contamination concerns, to get GaN-on-silicon wafers allowed into the 300 mm facility.”

Mojo’s CEO Nikhil Balram added: “Achieving cost-effective, large-scale manufacturing is the gap we are working to bridge with this breakthrough.”

Rajeeva Lahri, a semiconductor industry veteran who advises Mojo, suggested that the latest result would help to establish a roadmap for commercial scaling of micro-LED technology using processes compatible with industry-standard 300 mm fabrication facilities.

LASEROPTIK GmbHHyperion OpticsIridian Spectral TechnologiesABTechUniverse Kogaku America Inc.Mad City Labs, Inc.SPECTROGON AB
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