Advanced packaging technologies are changing the LED manufacturing supply chain

Last month, Yole Développement  announced the update of its technology and market analysis, LED Packaging Technology & Market Trends. Under this new report, the research market and strategy consulting company highlights the impact of advanced packaging technologies in the LED industry.

“The combination of cost reduction and advanced packaging technologies such as Flip Chip and Chip Scale Package, is changing the LED industry landscape, especially its supply chain,” Yole announced.  For example, introduction of Chip Scale Package solution clearly reduces the number of manufacturing steps: today, some LED chip manufacturers, with Chip Scale Package technology already supply their products to the LED module makers directly.

LED packaging

Flip Chip technology has step by step attracted attention from the lighting, backlighting and flash markets, becoming one the most important developing items this year. Following the LED TV crisis and with the entry of Chinese players, positioning has been reshuffled in the LED industry. The product quality of Chinese LED manufacturers has increased to a level where they are now real competitors for all players. In such a highly competitive environment, three major challenges lie ahead for the LED industry regarding the General Lighting market: efficacy improvement, cost decrease and color consistency increase.

To answer these challenges, several players have now turned to Flip Chip (FC) LED, as these components present several advantages over traditional horizontal (MESA) and vertical LEDs: they are wire-bonding free, can be driven at higher current, and have a smaller size package (…).

And although the FC LED technology has been launched for quite a long time by Lumileds, it was restricted from “popularization” due to technical / technological barriers (low yield regarding bumping / eutectic process…). Additionally, the financial investment required for packaging equipment, represented a strong barrier in an industry that was still recovering.

At middle and long term, this technology [CSP] could make chip manufacturers supply directly to module manufacturers.

But the technology has gradually attracted attention from the lighting, backlighting and flash markets, becoming one the most important developing items this year.

“Whereas Flip Chip LED represented only 11 percent of overall high power LED packaging in 2013, we expect this component to represent 34 percent by 2020. Flip Chip LED will take market share from vertical LED that will represent 27 percent of overall high power LED packages by 2020,” said Pars Mukish, Senior Market & Technology Analyst, LED, Lighting Technologies, Compound Semiconductors and OLEDs.

In addition to offering an increased “performance / cost” ratio, Flip Chip LEDs are also a key enabling technology for the development of Chip Scale Package (CSP) that could allow for further cost reduction.

CSPs are novel to the LED industry but they are the mainstay of the semiconductor industry. Development of CSPs in the Silicon ICs was driven by miniaturization, improved thermal management, higher reliability, and simply the need to connect to an ever increasing pin-count on an ever shrinking die. Chip Scale packages also enabled a reduction in device parasitic and allowed for ease of integration into Level 2 packaging (e.g.: module packaging for LED). It is therefore a natural evolution for this packaging innovation to proliferate into other industries (such as the LED industry).
Basically, a CSP represents a single chip direct mountable package that is the same size as the chip. Regarding LED devices, CSPs are made of a blue FC LED die on which a phosphor layer is coated (the main application of such package being General Lighting). CSP presents several advantages such as: miniaturized size, better thermal contact to substrate. However, eliminating several process steps of traditional LED packaging, CSPs are also having an impact on the industry structure with some LED chip manufacturers supplying their products directly to LED module manufacturers. At middle and long term, this technology could make chip manufacturers supply directly to module manufacturers.

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