18 December 2017
Epistar to begin trial production of VCSELs and mini-LEDs in Q2/2018
Taiwan-based LED epitaxial wafer and chip manufacturer Epistar’s president Jou Ming-jiunn expects that vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) and mini-LED chips will become a main source of business growth over the next two years and that they will undertake trial production or small-volume production for the two product lines in second-quarter 2018, reports Digitimes.
VCSELs are used in 3D face-recognition sensors for consumer electronics as well as in optical communication for data centers.
Epistar says that it has modified two 4-inch MOCVD systems for R&D on VCSELs. The firm has sent sample VCSELs for validation by nearly 10 potential clients. If the validation results are positive, Epistar will modify 10-15 more MOCVD systems and replace 4-inch rotary trays with 6-inch ones in preparation for the production of VCSEL wafers and devices. Modification of the MOCVD systems should be completed in first-quarter 2018 (with total monthly production capacity estimated to be 400-500 VCSEL wafers), then trial production should follow in second-quarter 2018.
Since Epistar has developed VCSEL technology over the last 2-3 years and has already amortized the cost of the MOCVD systems to be modified, it is reckoned that the firm will be cost competitive in the VCSEL segment. Epistar expects VCSELs to reach a gross margin of 30% and account for 5-10% of consolidated revenue in 2018.
For mini-LED backlighting, Epistar says it has been in talks with smartphone vendors (mostly China-based) about product design. Mini-LED backlighting can also be used in high-end LCD TVs, gaming notebooks and monitors.
As mini-LEDs in chip-scale packaging (CSP) can meet flexible demand from different clients, Epistar’s CSP capability will give it advantages in the backlighting segment, especially compared with China-based competitors, it is reckoned. Due to large demand from Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, Epistar’s shipments of CSP LED chips for backlighting in 2017 are expected to approximately double those of 2016.