Business Opportunities for GaN Devices
Fred A. Blum
5655 Lindero Canyon Rd., Suite, Westlake Village, CA 91362
GaAs-based electronic and optical devices came forward with great technology fanfare and promise between 1975 and 1985. However, because of the immaturity of the technology and limited market applications, profitable growing commercial business took another 10 to15 years to develop for many of the GaAs device types. The past give years have brought an explosion in technology development for GaN and its ternary alloys InGaN and AlGaN for electronic optoelectronic devices. To date, the drive to market has been led by LED and laser products but other devices such as HEMTs, UV photodetectors, and HBTs are coming up in performance. Also, LEDs and lasers have just begun to tap the large potential markets for these products. Will the story be the same? Will it take another 10 to 15 years to develop true profitable GaN-based business? The answer is "It depends". It depends on which devices and markets you wish to consider. While all the compound semiconductor markets are larger and more mature, one must consider each device type separately.
GaN-based HEMTs, HBTs, and MMICs face the daunting task of outperforming their GaAs and GaAs and InP/GaAs-base cousins, not to mention SiC-based devices. The story is different for GaN-based optoelectronic devices such as LEDs and lasers. Operating in the UV to green portion of the optical spectrum with astonishing performance, they are creating new applications and improving old ones. there are no viable alternatives for solid state light at these wavelengths.
We will review the various applications for GaN-based electronic and optoelectronic devices, and highlight the most likely winners. The technological and manufacturing challenges which face the GaN community will be discussed. The links between technical performance, manufacturing cost and market sizes will be covered. The promising business opportunities for electronic and optoelectronic devices will be identified. Drivers for manufacturing scale up for volume and low cost will be discussed.