Capacity and yield will be an important factor affecting LED costs

"There are many LED production plants in the south of Tokyo, Japan. This time, Japan suffered a major earthquake, let us all pray for Japanese friends!" At the "LED Illumination of the Future" International Symposium at Shanghai SEMICON China 2011 on March 16th, Thomas Morrow, SEMI's executive vice president and chief marketing officer of emerging markets, first expressed sincere condolences to the earthquake-stricken areas in Japan at the official start of the meeting.

Then, on behalf of SEMI, he announced the current global situation of LEDs. In the high-brightness LED market, global revenues in 2010 were US$10.8 billion, a year-on-year increase of 93%. Among them, Japan ranks first in the world with a 33% share, South Korea has 28% second place, and China only accounts for 2%. In the first quarter of 2011, the top four global production capacity of 4-inch wafers were 345,188 in Taiwan, 320,344 in Japan, 290,125 in Korea, and 202,375 in mainland China.

Industry development, standards first

At the end of 2010, the price of LED lights on the market is basically 10-25 US dollars, and this downward trend will continue in 2011.

Morrow pointed out that at present, the cost reduction of white LED devices mainly benefits from the improvement of luminous efficiency, and will turn to the increase of production capacity and yield in the future.

Research by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows that from 1996 to 2011, standards for software, calibration, and test methods generated nearly $10 billion in revenue. According to a study by the UK Department of Trade and Industry, the annual standard contribution to the UK's economic growth is about £2.5 billion. The German Institute for Standardization also believes that standardization can significantly reduce the risk and cost of R&D.

Morrow believes that the industry standards for solid-state lighting end products are critical to the industry's growth and market adoption. However, there are currently only a few Standard Development Organizations (SDOs) working on standard aspects of product performance and testing, while manufacturing standards for materials, equipment and automation are still blank.

Morrow said that the development of LED manufacturing standards can make suppliers more competitive and focus on innovation and price and performance improvements. As a result, LED manufacturers can purchase from different suppliers at the lowest cost, thereby reducing costs, improving quality, and speeding time-to-market.

In 2010, the market for 6-inch sapphire substrates was 1%. It will grow to 5% in 2011. Therefore, the task of the Wafer Fabrication Standards Working Group should focus on the following: defining the physical dimensions of a 6-inch sapphire wafer that produces high-brightness LEDs, including wafer references (scoring and flatness); wafer ID marking (position And content); center point thickness / TTV, warpage, bending and other flatness parameters. At present, the working group has more than 10 manufacturers including Osram, Veeco and Chongqing Silian.

The tasks of the Equipment Automation and Interface Working Group should focus on: defining the physical interface of the backplane carrier for high-brightness LEDs; and the processing and measurement tools for wafer and backplane carriers. Currently, the working group has more than 10 manufacturers including Brooks Automation, OSRAM, Veeco and Applied Materials.

The task of the assembly working group is primarily to define the physical and packaging characteristics of the die-level conductor components that are optimized for machining by general assembly equipment. Currently, members of the working group are Kulicke & Soffa, Amkor, TSMC, Chongqing Silian, Veeco, Brooks Automation and Entegris.

Process control and yield are key to reducing the cost of high-brightness LEDs

Morrow's view that the increase in capacity and yield is the main factor for the future cost reduction of white LED devices has been endorsed by the speakers at this conference.

Krina Vedula, Global Marketing Director of KLA Tencor, emphasized that reducing the cost of high-brightness LEDs must focus on manufacturing process control and yield management, which can also increase return on investment. He said that by 2015, 50% of all cost savings will depend on online testing.

The number of MOCVD machines has increased

MOCVD has seen growth for six consecutive quarters, but will grow steadily in 2011. Despite this, oversupply may still occur in 2011-2012. In 2010, MOCVD shipped 786 units worldwide, of which 34% were in mainland China, 31% in South Korea and 27% in Taiwan. In 2009, the above figures were 13%, 40% and 35% respectively. Only China's mainland has exploded, while South Korea and Taiwan have fallen sharply, and South Korea's willingness to invest in 2011 will no longer be as fanatical as it was in previous years. This seems to indicate that the MOCVD market will shift its focus from South Korea to mainland China.

Xu Yujuan, director of the Taiwanese display and LED division of the UK's IMS research institute, said that China's MOCVD stimulus plan has enabled more manufacturers to enter the field, and South Korea and Taiwan are also actively building capacity in the mainland. Since the third quarter of 2010, China has been leading the MOCVD installation for the first time and will continue to maintain this trend in 2011.

Since MOCVD in mainland China is mainly concentrated on 2-inch wafers, this has caused the supply of 2-inch sapphire to be tight in 2010, and the price has increased by 50%.

However, Wang Keyang, president of Veeco Greater China, said that with Qingdao Jiaxing Jingdian, Jiangsu Xiexin Optoelectronics Technology, Eurasia Lanbao Optoelectronics, Zhejiang Crystal Optoelectronics, Tiantong, Harbin Institute of Technology, Chongqing Silian, Yunnan Lanjing and Guiyang Investing in the production of sapphire substrates from mainland manufacturers, the sapphire shortage that has been plaguing the industry has been basically solved.

Wang Keyang pointed out that once the general lighting market demand, the adoption rate of the 4-inch sapphire base plate will accelerate, which may increase from the current 27% to about 50%.

However, industry insiders have different views on the rapid development of the general lighting market. Some people think that it will appear in 2012, while others believe that this will not be seen until at least 2015.

MOCVD reaction chamber design

The design of the MOCVD chamber is critical to film thickness uniformity and material quality. In theory, all MOCVD processes use deposition mode, but the coating must ensure processing stability.

The spacing determines the volume and surface area of ​​the cavity. Poor control of the spacing can cause particle problems and waste of molybdenum. Although the narrow spacing allows for better gas distribution and reduced molybdenum consumption, the nozzles are frequently clogged; while the wide spacing uses more molybdenum, it ensures process stability and avoids particle problems.

Good MOCVD reaction chamber design should ensure the uniformity of gas supply; heating problem; reduce pre-reaction; there can be no residual reaction in the cavity.

In addition, Wang Keyang said that pallet optimization and temperature control improvements can increase machine capacity (see Figure 6). In order to effectively control the epitaxial cost, high-capacity MOCVD requires a multi-functional production method. MaxBright applies multiple high-flow MOCVD reactors to modular two or four-group reactors for FlowFlange and automation in VBCO's MaxBright GaN MOCVD multi-reactor system for high-brightness LEDs . The advantage is that it is 25% more efficient than the standard K465i, with good consistency, repeatability and material quality.

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