26 June 2020
LED and display technology specialist Verticle Inc of San Francisco, CA, USA notes that, to improve the picture quality of mini-LED displays by increasing local dimming zones, significantly more LEDs are required than in a conventional LED backlight. For example, 10,000 LEDs are used in a 12.9-inch iPad Pro screen. Consequently, lowering LED cost is the primary issue for the commercialization of mini-LED displays.
One of the most effective ways to reduce the manufacturing cost would be to shrink die size. However, this is limited by current die singulation technologies (e.g. the industry-standard stealth laser dicing process) due to chip damage and extremely long processing time. This is particularly true for LED die of less than 100mm.
Verticle has developed innovative die singulation technology called ‘Chemical Dicing’, which enables a reduction in mini-LED die size without chip damage. Using the chemical dicing process, dramatic cost reduction can be achieved through a substantial increase in die count per wafer. Furthermore, as shown in Table1, it can also result in narrower scribe street width.
Table 1. Increasing die per wafer by shrinking die size and street width (including 3mm edge exclusion).
This is attributed to a damage-free nature of the chemical dicing as it separates die by wet chemical etching the street line instead of thermal or mechanical methods that generate heat or acoustic shock waves. As a result, there is no damage around the chip edge, which means that distance between active areas and chip cutting edges can be less than 2mm. Therefore, active area can be enlarged, which results in more light output from the same size LED die.
As shown in Table 1, die size shrinking and street narrowing yield a dramatic increase in DPW (die per wafer), by up to 8x, compared with conventional flip-chip-based mini-LEDs, which have a larger die size and wider street widths.
Additional DPW increase can be obtained by chip shaping. Unlike conventional die singulation methods that can only separate die in a linear direction (i.e. only able to separate either square or rectangular die), chemical dicing enables free-shape die (e.g. hexagonal) formation and singulation. Hexagonal die can increase DPW by more than 20% due to enhanced tiling efficiency and increased usable wafer area (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Increased die per wafer by chip shaping and narrowing street width.
Figure 2. First hexagonal LED die separated by chemical dicing.
Using this unique chemical dicing, Verticle was able to fabricate the first hexagonal die (Figure 2). The hexagonal shape symmetry can help to achieve better current spreading, which results in higher light output than square or rectangular die. Additionally, hexagonal die light output is enhanced after packaging too. A hexagonal die produces a beam profile that is much closer to the circular shape of a circular lens used in optics design. In contrast, the beam profile of the typical square or rectangular die, when combined with a circular lens, is typically distorted.
Moreover, multiple wafers in one batch can be etched simultaneously, resulting in die singulation throughputs that are 500x greater than stealth laser dicing, says Vertical (see Table 2).
Table 2.Benefits of chemical dicing (based on 100μm x 100μm die, 2-inch wafer,100 wafers x 2”-wafer/lot, 10min/lot = 6 sec/wafer) compared with stealth laser dicing. Chemical dicing is 83x faster than stealth laser dicing for 100μm x 100μm die. Benefits include faster dicing speed and throughputs with increasing number of loading wafers per batch and shrinking die size. Also, chemical dicing speed is independent of die size.
Emerging photovoltaics market to grow to $38bn in 2040
3 July 2020
The market for emerging photovoltaics will grow to $38bn in 2040 without colliding with the silicon-in-glass ‘power station’ business, according forecasts in IDTechEx’s report ‘Materials Opportunities in Emerging Photovoltaics 2020-2040’.
There will be many opportunities for premium pricing of new specialist materials, the report notes. For example, over $10,000/W is currently paid for a record 30%-efficient lll-V compound semiconductor (PV) in a designer watch, as an array on a satellite, or on the surface of a high-altitude drone.
Another emerging PV technology, copper indium gallium di-selenide (CIGS), has recently shot to over $2bn sales in only ten years.
Most of the emerging PV technology is thin film, flexible and some will be stretchable, making possible many new markets, such as tightly rollable PVs in your mobile phone, regular aircraft skin, billions of Internet of Things nodes etc.
Hundreds of millions more building facades need such lightweight PVs, says IDTechEx chairman Dr Peter Harrop. Also, triple-efficiency indoor III-V PV is newly on sale, to be followed by underwater applications. Researchers are even targeting three types of technology for PV paint. Vehicle retrofit from boats to buses… this list goes on and on, adds Harrop. (Those interested in radically new formats for electronics and electrics in general can refer to IDTechEx’s report ‘Electronics Reshaped 2020-2040’).
The PV research pipeline guarantees robust further improvements to the already dramatic leap in lifetime, efficiency, cost etc in recent years, says Harrop. CIGS will join organic photovoltaics (OPV) in being totally free of the heavy metals that could be emitted during either misuse or wrongful disposal of the materials. Also, rare materials subject to price hikes are being bypassed. Transparency, biodegradability, availability of wide-area film, layering different technologies on top of each other – all these factors open up more sales.
But with silicon near its theoretical limits and taking up massive areas of real estate – often prime agricultural land and lakes – that multi-junction, compound semiconductor PV being developed by Toyota for mounting on a car may even compete with ‘power station’ silicon one day by affordably providing the same power in half the area, and therefore being much more widely deployable and acceptable, concludes IDTechEx.
II-VI prices public offerings, upscaled from $750m to $800m
2 July 2020
Engineered materials and optoelectronic component maker II-VI Inc of Saxonburg, PA, USA has announced the pricing of concurrent underwritten public offerings of (i) 9,302,235 shares of its common stock at $43 per share, for gross proceeds of about $400m (upscaled from the $350m announced on 30 June); and (ii) 2,000,000 shares of its Series A mandatory convertible preferred stock at a price of $200 per share, for gross proceeds of $400m (before deducting the underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses, in both cases).
In addition, II-VI has granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase (at the applicable public offering price) up to an additional (i) 1,395,335 shares of its common stock; and (ii) 300,000 shares of Series A mandatory convertible preferred stock (solely to cover over-allotments), minus underwriting discounts and commissions.
Each offering is expected to close on or about 7 July, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.
Unless earlier converted, each share of Series A mandatory convertible preferred stock will automatically convert on 1 July 2023 (subject to postponement for certain market disruption or other events) into between 3.8760 and 4.6512 shares of II-VI’s common stock, subject to customary anti-dilution adjustments.
Dividends on the Series A mandatory convertible preferred stock will be payable on a cumulative basis when, as and if declared by II-VI’s board of directors, at an annual rate of 6% on the liquidation preference of $200 per share. If declared, these dividends will be payable in cash, by delivery of shares of II-VI’s common stock or through any combination of cash and shares, as determined by II-VI in its sole discretion, on 1 January, 1 April, 1 July and 1 October of each year, commencing on 1 October 2020 and ending on, and including, 1 July 2023.
BofA Securities, J.P. Morgan and Citigroup are acting as joint book-running managers for each offering.
II-VI expects to use up to $714.6m of the net proceeds from these offerings and/or cash on hand to repay borrowings (including accrued interest) under its existing credit agreement, and to use the remainder of net proceeds (if any) to develop, enhance, invest in or acquire related, emerging or complementary technologies, products or businesses and for other general corporate purposes.
FBH and UVphotonics develop LED irradiation system – from disinfection to medical treatments
2 July 2020
Berlin-based Ferdinand-Braun-Institut, Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik (FBH) and its spin-off UVphotonics NT GmbH have designed and developed a versatile turnkey irradiation system for surface treatment.
Since the compact, modular system can be equipped with both in-house-developed UV LEDs as well as commercially available UV, visible and infrared LEDs, it can be flexibly adjusted to the targeted emission spectrum.
For disinfection purposes the system can be equipped with in-house-developed LEDs emitting at 265nm to eliminate germs on critical surfaces, including personal items such as mobile phones and reusable masks as well as menu cards in restaurants. It can also be used in the professional sector, for example in healthcare clinics and laboratories.
The system is equipped with an illumination module comprising 16 UV LEDs distributed over an area of 80mm x 80mm. The LEDs provide an illumination intensity of >5mW/cm2. So, the irradiation system achieves the minimum UV dose of 500mJ/cm2 recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US Department of Health) in less than two minutes. An integrated timer ensures the correct dosage.
The module can control up to four different wavelengths separately, which can be an advantage in applications such as medical treatments and curing. To cover larger areas, the modular segments can be mechanically interconnected wire-free and therefore the system is flexibly expandable into one-dimensional as well as two-dimensional arrays. Also, individually shaped arrays are possible, which can be integrated into a large number of disinfection systems.
The overall system is a plug & play solution that can be computer-controlled or operated as standalone with constant power. Even programming a timing pattern is possible.
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