October 2, 2012 – Driven by market demand, the semiconductor industry is progressing toward consensus on building-block standards for automating LED production on 6-in wafers, explains Paula Doe in an article for SST sister magazine LEDs Magazine.
With the fast-growing demand for HB-LEDs, the industry has added roughly 100 new fabs in the last five years, for a total of 169 LED fabs worldwide. Total industry epitaxy capacity has subsequently ballooned 5× to some 2 million (4-in equivalent) wafers a month.
But there’s still considerable headroom to improve yields and reduce costs — and drive the growth of the solid-state lighting (SSL) market — by moving to larger-diameter wafers and automated production with tighter process controls. Lower front-end processing costs for 6-in wafers mean translate to a 25% cost savings vs. 4-in wafers, per unit surface area, assuming equivalent yields and around $150/wafer for the bigger wafers.
In the latest issue of LEDS Magazine, Paula Doe examines the major players’ progress in enabling this transition, forging consensus on the basics of common wafer parameters, common interfaces for production equipment, and common communication software to communicate data from analysis tools. Bottom line: efforts could enable a $7/$8 60W-equivalent LED bulb by 2014, which would propel the general lighting industry to surpass displays as the main driver of the LED market.
(Image via LEDs Magazine)