March 27, 2014
NGK INSULATORS, LTD.
NGK INSULATORS, LTD. (President: Taro Kato, Headquarters: Nagoya, Japan) announced today that it has decided to commercialize its bonded wafers and make a full-scale entry into the market for wafers for electronic devices. Through this move, NGK aims to strengthen the competitive capability of its products, with a view to achieving net sales of 7.5 billion yen from the bonded wafer business in fiscal 2017.
Bonded wafers are substrates for electronic devices and are fabricated by bonding wafers of differing material. Combining different materials enables bonded wafers to deliver performance and functionality that cannot be achieved with wafers made from a single material. NGK has been developing various high functionality, high quality bonded wafers using proprietary bonding technologies and ultra high-precision wafer polishing technologies that it has cultivated through its experience in ceramics.
Two wafer products to be commercialized are a bonded wafer for use in surface acoustic wave (SAW) filters and a wavelength conversion element for green laser light sources. NGK has already started production using existing facilities at its head office site. As volumes increase, the Company will establish a mass production facility at its Komaki Plant (Komaki, Aichi Prefecture), where it plans to commence production from 2015. NGK plans to achieve production capacity of 30,000 wafers a month in fiscal 2017 with a capital expenditure of 2.0 billion yen.
NGK is working to achieve a net sales ratio for new products of 30% in fiscal 2017, and the entire company has been striving to create new products and new businesses. Among these initiatives, the Company considers wafer products for electronic devices to be an area with strong potential. In 2012, the Wafer Project was launched, with the goal of commercializing wafers at an early stage. With demand for high functionality, high quality, low cost bonded wafers now expected to increase, NGK has decided to move ahead with commercializing the products by establishing a production system and enhancing its sales and marketing systems.
NGK will strengthen and accelerate the development of its wafer lineup, including bonded wafers, gallium-nitride (GaN) wafers, and HICERM® wafers.
|* Wafer:||Thin, disk-shaped substrates made from semiconductor, piezoelectric, and insulating materials, used for construction of electronic device chips. Thousands or tens of thousands of identical electrode patterns are formed in a grid pattern on the wafer surface, which is then cut into small pieces to create electronic devices such as SAW filters.|
SAW filters are a key electronic component in radio communication devices such as smartphones. The filters influence communication quality because their role is to select radio waves of a specific frequency. Conventional SAW filters had a major weak point due to their significant thermal expansion; however, NGK has become the first in the world to develop bonded wafers for SAW filters that lower the thermal expansion of wafer surfaces by shaping piezoelectric monocrystals into thin sheets and bonding silicon, which has low thermal expansion properties, to them. As a result, NGK has realized a high-performance SAW filter with a dramatically improved temperature profile, which will contribute to even higher communication speeds and reduced bandwidth congestion.
Demand for SAW filters is increasing, driven by the popularization of smartphones and the expansion of the LTE* market. The market for SAW filters is expected to increase going forward.
|*A high-speed data communication standard|
A wavelength conversion element for green laser light sources is a device that converts wavelengths from an infrared light to green light. NGK has developed a proprietary structure for these devices that achieves the highest level of conversion efficiency in the world, paving the way for miniaturization and cost reduction of devices and wider application of lasers. Recently, consumers in the market for business projectors have been calling for higher luminosity and resolution, which is expected to drive higher demand for wavelength conversion elements for green laser light sources.