LED manufacturers sacrifice cost reduction, new LED packaging into focus

It is reported that LED has entered the third wave of growth cycle and aggressively attacked the general lighting market. However, the cost of LED packaging is high, so it has become the target of reducing the cost of LED manufacturers such as Cree, Philips and Osram, prompting LED packaging factories to use them. Emerging package designs such as flip chip and COB increase cost-effectiveness and enhance product competitiveness.

Emerging LEDs are packaged into focus
Manufacturers of solid-state lighting are exploring the substrate, type and composition of the package to achieve a perfect price/performance balance. If you ask the general public to draw an LED picture, it is likely that there are still two legs that are used to make the LEDs of the instrument display. However, the LEDs that illuminate small displays and computers have undergone a significant evolution in packaging technology. They are probably not recognized by the people who have been with the ancestors of the past.

LEDs face a third wave of growth cycles, and the increase in benefits will depend on general lighting needs, so packaging technology needs to be more cost effective. Of the total cost of packaged LEDs, light is 45% of the packaging step, and it is no surprise that this step becomes the focus of the industry.

The industry believes that the industry wants to further increase the illumination per unit cost. There are two ways to achieve this - increase the performance of each packaged product to reduce the number of products at the system level, or reduce the cost per unit. LED manufacturers have never been so striving to keep costs down, and the need to increase the cost per unit of cost has changed the design philosophy of high-power products. Until last year, LED manufacturers struggled to increase product performance and product complexity, but now, some manufacturers focus on cost-reducing design methods when packaging products.

Every manufacturer has a magic weapon
One notable example of this shift is Cree, which puts LED chips into packages. In the past, the design trend of many high-power LED manufacturers was to use vertical LEDs, in which epitaxial or silicon carbide (SiC) substrates have been removed, and the LED structure has been connected to another carrier wafer, and most of them a year or two ago. Cree's high-power LEDs are based on this design.

Cree's latest XB-D line of XLamp high-brightness LEDs was introduced in January 2012, returning to the simple method of previous products, the Flip-chip package. This product uses only the flip chip technology that can keep the original substrate. Cree thins the SiC epitaxial substrate and then performs surface etching on the back surface to increase the light extraction efficiency. Surface treatment of substrates is not new, and many companies use patterned sapphire substrates (PSS), but Cree uses a simpler, cheaper design. The company uses trench-like tools on the substrate to create trenches whose angles maximize light extraction efficiency. This approach is not only cheap, but also seems to be very efficient in generating and emitting light sources, which is a clever design to increase the illumination per unit cost.

In addition to Cree, other vendors, such as OSRAM and Philips, want to increase cost-effectiveness, but the methods vary. Osram still uses vertical LED architecture, Philips still prefers film flip-chip, but they also remove sapphire crystals, Cree uses different flip chip wiring technology. Although Philips uses crystal ball bumping technology, Cree uses low temperature crystallization to further reduce costs and improve contact thermal resistance.

Medium power LED cost reduction
Prior to general lighting, LCD TV backlighting was the main driving force for LED sales. However, the market expansion was not as good as expected, resulting in oversupply of power LEDs in TV backplanes, and the general lighting costs increased significantly. Medium-power LEDs are packaged in a minimalist plastic leadless wafer carrier (PLCC). In addition to replacing the fluorescent tubes that are inherently more dispersed with multiple angles and multiple sources, the industry says these medium-power LEDs are gradually entering the market where only high-power LEDs are used. Medium, such as a light bulb or a projection light.

It is useful to show vendors' strategies for making certain types of components into different related products. First of all, in the field of LED TVs, the specifications of packaged products have been standardized, which is very rare in the LED industry, which will make the economy bigger. As the LCD TV market is not as strong as expected, there is already a large amount of medium-power LEDs with overcapacity in demand, which makes the cost further down. For some applications, the price per illumination becomes very attractive.

Cost-effective considerations also affect how LED manufacturers can meet the different light color requirements of users. The need for warmer light has led the industry to look for technologies outside of the industry's widely used Yttrium Aluminium Garnet (YAG). Manufacturers have tried to turn some cool white light from a gallium nitride (GaN) emitter to yellow instead of YAG. YAG and its silicon substrate are still the primary packaging form. However, with the diversified services of the industry, the high demand for adjusting various color lights has emerged.

To achieve this goal, manufacturers have added red elements in two ways in light color. First, at the system level, manufacturers can add red LED wafers containing YAG phosphors to standard blue wafers. Cree uses this method to call this practice "TrueWhite" technology, which is also used by OSRAM. Another method can be used to add red light, mostly nitrogen-containing phosphor powder. This approach can be adjusted for application, but for high-brightness LEDs, the production of this phosphor is important if red light is to be emitted. The problem is that nitride phosphors are still extremely expensive and difficult to manufacture, and in some cases, nitride phosphors are ten to twenty times more expensive than YAG phosphors. If the user is authorized by Nichia, YAG can be used to produce yellow phosphor. If not, a phosphor of a silicon compound can be used. However, in the case of red light, the market is dominated only by Mitsubishi Chemical and its nitride phosphor.

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