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Revolutionizing the Utilization of compound Semiconductor Technology

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RUST (Revolutionizing the Utilization of compound Semiconductor Technology)

Reporting period: 2018-11-01 to 2019-04-30

The semiconductor industry is experiencing a continuous growth, being more pronounced for the compound semiconductor industry. These materials present unique properties such as high temperature resistance, enhanced frequency, high band gap and faster operation and optoelectronic features. These key advantages are boosting their demand in the upcoming years driven by several important and strategic industries like 5G, electrical and robot vehicles or VR/AR , that are in need of new levels of efficiency, reliability and performance. Many vendors are focusing on technological advancement in compound semiconductor products and additionally, they are also making huge investments to increase the production to reduce the manufacturing expense and to overcome the challenges in manufacturing plants.
Despite of their appealing properties, the use of these materials has been compromised by the difficulty of their processing. One important contributor to this issue is their natural tendency to get oxidized. Technological developments to improve the protection against oxidation for these materials would bring additional performance increases and at the same time improve the manufacturing yields, having the later a big impact on costs but also on environmental effects.
Our company has developed a new technology to cope with this problem that has been present in the industry for decades and to which the currently applied preventive actions have not been able to provide good results. With our technology, branded as Kontrox™, we have managed to proof reduction of surface defects due to oxidation up to 98% compared to other commonly used techniques.


The objective of this study was to determine the economic and technical feasibility of the Kontrox™ process. In order to achieve, the given objective, two main tasks were planned and implemented:

Task 1: Technical feasibility assessment Conduct device level tests in order to prove the technical feasibility of Kontrox. It included flat sample studies and LED chip passivation to analyse the passivation effect and surface defect reductions in the customer’s Micro LED stack.

Task 2: Revenue model validation A comprehensive optoelectronics market research was conducted. This was done to validate the growth and future developments in the targeted Micro LED market. Based on market research the go-to-market strategy with was compiled.
One of the objectives of this project was to validate the technology on real device level for a particular application, µLEDs, to raise the TRL from 6 to 7. To do this, we have performed several test rounds with different µLED structures from different suppliers, combining different sizes, geometries and material stacks.
It can be stated that the pilot project carried out has been very successful. We have covered more topics than expected due to the availability of samples from two different sources. Main results resulting from the work done are:
Kontrox™ process consistently improves the efficiency of InGaAlP based μLED structures.
Comptek team has successfully implemented the Kontrox™ process into several types of microLED devices showing that the process is adaptable, repeatable and that our process tuning methodology is reliable.
There is a good match between the expected and the real behaviour of the different samples before and after the process. This confirms that we have a good understanding of the technology working principle.
A new measurement technique has been identified, tested and validated as a very reliable and powerful technique to quantify the passivation quality level of microLED structures.

During this project we have also made a deeper analysis of the compound semiconductor market with more focus on the optoelectronics and more precisely on the mini/µLED market. We looked into its trends, forecasts and also into the main players and the relationships between them. The optoelectronics market is growing rapidly.The mini/microLED market is currently been developed due to the early stage of the technology. First adoptions of the miniLEDs are starting already in 2019.
The market is very dynamic in terms of partnerships and M&A showing that now is the right time to get involved with the supply chain players.
Primary opportunities are as follows:
Our technology could have a big impact on the mini- and microLED market, as it clearly brings a necessary tool to produce the most efficient types of microLEDs. It is the right timing to establish the right partnerships on this field.
Within the laser area, there are several applications where our technology could have a big impact and where there is a big market demand for improved technologies, like High power lasers and VCSELs.
The IR market is growing but it is still very small compared to other markets. It can be defined as a low volume and high cost market. This needs to be taken into account when developing the business model to address this market.


Additionally, we have acquired a better understanding about the revenue cycle and the business model mainly based on the collaboration and discussions with potential customers. Based on this knowledge we have defined a reliable go-to-market strategy and plan.
CONCLUSIONS
The project reached its main objective by proving the economic and technical feasibility of the technology and establishing the following milestones:

The technical feasibility of Kontrox™ technology as passivation process for microLED structures has been validated with state of the art device samples, and for devices from different suppliers.
Market analysis shows a growing demand for optoelectronic devices that come with challenging technical requirements. Several market opportunities for Kontrox™ technology have been identified and quantified: Mini- and MicroLEDs, High power lasers and VCSELs, and IR detectors.

Our business model has been further developed and also validated with our first customer cases. A first successful agreement to commercialize Kontrox™ technology has been signed with a big customer on the VR/AR field.
An important component of the business model has been identified: Technology transfer process. The activities needed to develop and achieve the readiness level to get to market successfully have been drafted and a project plan created. Target is to apply for EU SME phase II grant to implement and execute this plan.
Carrier lifetime improvements in array of 10um InGaAlP based microLEDs