European consortium completes VCSEL project

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Philips Photonics, a specialist developer and supplier of VCSEL (Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers) technology solutions for data communications, consumer and industrial applications, has announced the successful completion of its ‘VIDaP’ project (VCSEL Pilot Line for Illumination, Datacom and Power Applications).

The €23 million project jointly sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the EU under the European ECSEL program.

The project, which was set up in 2014, has been focused on making significant advancements in highly automated manufacturing, bringing VCSEL production to the same level of maturity as in the LED industry.

While Philips Photonics led the project, other partners included the UK company, IQE, STMicroelectronics, Sidel, SICK AG, Mellanox Technologies and the Technical University of Eindhoven.

VCSELs are key components that drive and enable the advancement of numerous fast-growing digital technology markets. Global revenues for the VCSEL market currently stand at several hundred million, and are expected to rise above $1billion in 2022.

Prior to the project, VCSELs were only manufactured in small quantities, with largely unautomated processes. According to Philips and its partners they have successfully demonstrated the capability to manufacture VCSELs to the same standards as other high volume semiconductor components. It is hoped that this capability will help to unlock the potential of a range of solutions from high speed data transmission and 3D recognition to optical sensors such as Lidar and digital industrial thermal processes as well as significantly reducing the size of sensors and the energy consumption seen in data centres and thermal industrial processes.

Philips announced last year that it was expanding and doubling the capacity of its laser-diode facility in Ulm, and the company has produced a cumulative 700million VCSELs. This growth being seen in demand for VCSELS has triggered follow-up investments that will lead to a further doubling of capacity by early 2018.

The expansion of the facility in Ulm is also on track to be completed by the end of 2017.

“The market need for VCSELs is rapidly accelerating. Anticipating this demand, over the past few years we have invested consistently in research, product development and efficient manufacturing processes,” said Joseph Pankert, General Manager, Philips Photonics.