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European Consortium Completes VCSEL Project

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Philips Photonics reaches production milestone of 700 Million VCSELs, projecting another doubling of capacity by early 2018

Philips Photonics, a maker of VCSELs, has announced the successful completion of its ‘VIDaP’ project (VCSEL Pilot Line for Illumination, Datacom and Power Applications), a €23 million project jointly sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the EU, and executed under the umbrella of the European ECSEL program.

Since its inception in 2014, the project has focused on making significant advancements in highly automated manufacturing, bringing VCSEL production to the same level of maturity as the LED industry. Philips Photonics led the project. Other partners were IQE Ltd, STMicroelectronics, Sidel, SICK AG, Mellanox Technologies Ltd, and the Technical University of Eindhoven.

Global revenues for the VCSEL market currently stand at several hundred million, and are expected to swell to above $1billion in 2022.

Prior to the project, VCSELs were only manufactured in small quantities, with largely non-automated processes. Now, Philips and its consortium partners have successfully demonstrated the capability to manufacture VCSELs to the same standards as other high volume semiconductor components. The capability will help to unlock the potential of new solutions such as high speed data transmission, 3D recognition, optical sensors such as Lidar and digital industrial thermal processes, whilst significantly reducing the size of sensors and energy consumption in data centres and thermal industrial processes.

Following the announcement last year that Philips was expanding and doubling the capacity of its laser-diode facility in Ulm, Philips has produced a cumulative 700 Million VCSELs. This fast growth in demand has triggered follow-up investments that will lead to another 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, as scheduled.

“With the digital revolution firmly underway, 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. “Today, our products are widely used in data centres, smartphones and a number of industrial applications, with the advancements brought about by the project helping to secure Philips a leading European position in this growing segment of optoelectronics."


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