Bookham Opens MMIC Foundry

Bookham Technology opens Europe's first commercial 6-inch-wafer technology GaAs MMIC foundry in major assault on device costs

June 6, 2003

3 Min Read

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE, U.K. -- Bookham Technology plc (LSE: BHM, NASDAQ: BKHM), a leading supplier of GaAs MMICs and foundry services from its Caswell facility since 1985, is launching at IMS 2003 one of the first European-based commercial processes to use 6-inch-GaAs-wafer technology. Only a handful of foundries worldwide have this capability, and none can match Bookham’s depth of experience with GaAs MMICs. Initial production will start in late 2003.

The new 6-inch-wafer technology will give a significant reduction in MMIC costs compared to those of the standard 3 & 4 -inch-wafer processes by increasing per-wafer device volumes by up to a factor of four. This results in higher yields per wafer, lower lead and cycle times and greater device repeatability. Cost reduction is now a hugely important driver in many areas of the MMIC business, especially for military applications.

“Facilities will be available on the MESFET process at the end of the year followed in the first quarter of 2004 by the pHEMT process. Currently, we have produced wafers for both MESFET and pHEMT, and they are running through qualification and characterisation,” says Ray Taylor, Business Manager, RF MMICS & Foundry Products, at Bookham Technology. “The move to 6-inch wafers is a major step that will affect the cost base of all of our products in future, as well as the foundry services we offer.”

Bookham will be displaying a sample 6-inch wafer at the IMS 2003 exhibition, and will be discussing with its customers their ongoing requirements for foundry services using the enhanced MESFET and pHEMT processes.

The F20 MESFET process utilises 0.5µm gate-length devices for use up to 20GHz; both the gain and switch processes have been European Space Agency (ESA) space qualified. The H40 and H40P processes use 0.2µm gate-length low-noise pHEMT technology for devices operating to over 40GHz; the H40P process is a high-power variant, with a breakdown voltage of over 15V. A new 0.12µm pHEMT process is being developed for applications at even higher frequencies of up to 80GHz.

The new technology uses state-of-the-art direct-step-on-wafer lithography. This makes it simple for Bookham to offer clients further cost savings through the option of participating in multiproject runs, whereby several clients can share fractional space on a single wafer. Universities and small companies wanting to prototype new designs economically would find this a particularly attractive alternative to funding the cost of a complete set of wafers.

The 6-inch-wafer technology will also significantly boost Bookham’s already unique capabilities in electro-optic integration with GaAs materials. The company’s leading position in components for optical communications is based on such devices as high-speed GaAs Mach–Zehnder modulators. Such devices are inherently large, and 6-inch wafers will allow the integration of larger and more complex devices for handling the direct transmission of microwave signals over optical fibres.

Visitors to Bookham Technology’s stand at IMS 2003 (No 1360) will also be able to see a demonstration of Agilent Technologies latest ADS 2003A new industry-standard MMIC design-flow solution. Under an early adopter programme, Bookham has been working with Agilent to review the finished software and to ensure a smooth transfer for its customers who will be using the new release in future. Design libraries for the new software are freely available on CD-ROM to all customers of Bookham’s MMIC foundry services.

At IMS 2003 Bookham will be providing information on a wide range of standard GaAs MMIC products operating up to 42GHz, including amplifiers, attenuators, phase switches and switches. While focused mainly on the aerospace and military microwave markets, Caswell’s devices also span commercial professional communications applications, including radio access, point-to-point links and point-to-multipoint links, including Wireless LANs, Wireless Local Loops and Microwave Multipoint Distribution Systems.

Bookham Technology plc

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