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Plasma Technology
Four reasons why 2018 was a great year for innovation

20 Dec 2018   Author: Dr Mark Dineen

Here at Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology (OIPT) we have a long and rich history of working with the best researchers in the world and helping them take their work from the Lab into the Fab. This year has been a brilliant example of this with many innovations reaching a stage where they are being offered to the market.


With the inclusion of facial recognition in the iphone X late 2017 VCSEL arrays had entered the consumer market. While the forecast may have softened slightly this technology is here to stay and is planned to be introduced by many other handset manufacturers. This is scratching the surface of the impact VCSELs will have, Lidar for driverless cars, Augmented Reality (AR) and high speed communications VCSELs will continue to push performance. OIPT has engaged with most of the VCSEL manufacturers finding out what they need from us and then developing targeted process solutions. Through this approach we have managed to deliver process and device improvements that have really helped our customers move forward.

SiC Power Devices

Having attended both ISPSD and ECSCRM this year it really struck me the amount of excitement around both SiC and GaN (more later) materials. The atmosphere at ECSCRM was reminiscent of the pre-HBLED boom just before that market went huge, and this time the market forecasts are based on a solid need and performance fit. Talking to the substrate suppliers their biggest headache is that they simply cannot produce enough wafers to satisfy the market. With the growth of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles (EV/HV) that will happen, not if but when, SiC power devices are only heading in one direction. This will drive innovation and reduce the manufacturing cost which in turn will release new opportunities which will drive innovation…good times. OIPT has plasma etch and deposition processes to enable optimum device performances at excellent Cost of Ownership (COO). Watch this space for our latest White Paper on SiC Power Devices.

GaN RF Devices

I admit to having a soft spot for GaN, I studied it for my PhD about 20 years ago and my involvement with it over my career has taken me to many, many interesting places. For some time now it has been proposed for RF devices up to 650V and while it has always had a place within military applications it is now approaching the stage when it can be offered to the general market. Companies such as Transphorm and GaN Systems are already offering the advantages of GaN: fast switching, reduced packaging and higher efficiency. The innovation around the manufacture of normally OFF (E mode) devices are bringing new ideas such as Atomic Layer Etching (ALE) and production Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) into the mainstream. OIPT is in position that it can offer these technologies on a single cluster system with industry standard cassette handling for high throughput.

InP Lasers

Data, data, data - if you think we have high data traffic now just wait and see! Internet of Things, 5G, Video calls all these and more require communications at a scale we have never seen before. InP lasers are at the heart of the communications systems without it you cannot get the speeds needed to satisfy the volume. OIPT has developed facet etches, dielectric passivation and many other process solutions for our customers over the years. We offer a depth of process knowledge and experience to really enable our customers to get the most light and most devices from each and every wafer. Read more on our white papers.

2018 was a great year, compound semiconductors are moving into mainstream manufacturing in many exciting ways. OIPT is THE compound semiconductor plasma process solutions company. 2019 should be even more exciting!

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