Gallium arsenide wafer demand set to rise

Gallium arsenide wafer demand set to rise

Business news |
By Peter Clarke

The four main markets that use GaAs substrates are RF, Photonics, LED, and photovoltaics and it is photonics applications that will drive substrate sales upwards over the next five years.

In 2018, GaAs RF business represents more than 50 percent of the GaAs wafer market but this will grow slowly and decline as a percentage. “At Yole, we expect GaAs to remain the mainstream technology for sub-6GHz instead of CMOS, owing to GaAs’ high power and linearity performance as required by carrier aggregation and MIMO technology,” said Hong Ling, analyst at Yole, in a statement.

Annual sales of GaAs substrates (6-inch equivalent) by volume and application in 2017 and 2013. Source: Yole Developpement.

Higher volume will come in photonics from the use of vertical cavity surface emitting lasers (VCSELs) for use in 3D ranging and face detection in mobile phones initially and from lidar in autonomous vehicles later on, Yole reckons. The CAGR for wafers for photonic use is 37 percent over the 2017 to 2023 period, Yole predicts.

When Apple introduced its new iPhone X with a 3D sensing function using GaAs-based VCSELs – supplied by Lumentum – it paved the way for a significant boost in the GaAs photonics market. GaAs wafers market segment for photonics applications should reach US$150 million by 2023, said Yole.

For GaAs LEDs the CAGR is expected to be 21 percent by volume over the period 2017 to 2023.

Yole said it expects the top GaAs wafer suppliers – Sumitomo, Freiberger Compound Materials, and AXT – to maintain their technicaladvantage for the next three to five years at least.

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