27 September 2017
Philips Photonics-led European consortium completes VIDaP VCSEL project
Philips Photonics of Ulm, Germany - which provides vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) technology for datacom, consumer and industrial applications - has completed ‘VIDaP’ (VCSEL Pilot Line for Illumination, Datacom and Power Applications), after leading the €23m project jointly sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the European Union, and executed under the umbrella of the European program ECSEL (Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership).
Since its inception in 2014, the project has focused on making significant advances in highly automated manufacturing, bringing VCSEL production to the same level of maturity as the LED industry. Other partners were IQE Ltd, STMicroelectronics, Sidel, SICK AG, Mellanox Technologies Ltd, and the Technical University of Eindhoven.
Global revenues for the VCSEL market are currently several hundred million dollars, and are expected to swell to more than $1bn in 2022.
Prior to the project, VCSELs were only manufactured in small quantities, with largely unautomated processes. Philips and its consortium partners have now demonstrated the capability to manufacture VCSELs to the same standards as other high-volume semiconductor components. The capability is expected to help unlock the potential of new solutions such as high-speed data transmission, 3D recognition, optical sensors such as Lidar and digital industrial thermal processes, whilst significantly reducing the size of sensors and energy consumption in data centers and thermal industrial processes.
Following the announcement last November that Philips was expanding and doubling the capacity of its laser diode facility (on track for completetion by the end of 2017), Philips has produced a cumulative 700 million VCSELs. This rapid growth in demand has triggered follow-up investments that will lead to another doubling of capacity by early 2018, says the firm.
“With the digital revolution firmly underway, the market need for VCSELs is rapidly accelerating,” says Philips Photonics’ general manager Joseph Pankert. “Anticipating this demand, over the past few years we have invested consistently in research, product development and efficient manufacturing processes,” he adds. “Today, our products are widely used in data centers, smartphones and a number of industrial applications, with the advancements brought about by the project helping to secure Philips a leading European position in this growing segment of optoelectronics.”