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CS International 2018 has built strongly on the success of its predecessors, combining insightful presentations with the highest attendance figures ever and a packed exhibition hall.
Richard Stevenson, CS International Conference Programme Manager and CS Magazine Editor reflects on the 2018 event.
Breaking new ground, CS International co-located with PIC International and the inaugural High-End Sensors International. Great synergy between all three meetings helped to propel the number of delegates to over 600, and led to record sponsors - over 70 companies supported the event.
Delegates were able to pick and choose between nearly 100 presentations, delivered over 10th and 11th April at the Sheraton Hotel, Brussels airport. The portfolio of presentations included more than 35 talks at CS International, now in its eighth year.
CS International got off to a great start with a keynote talk from Philip Zuk, Senior Director, Technical Marketing, at Transphorm. Zuk detailed the great opportunities for GaN-on-silicon transistors in electric vehicles. Echoing this view was Richard Eden, principal analyst at IHS, who claimed that this application could help to propel the sales of GaN power electronics to $1.8 billion by 2027.
Revenue from SiC is also tipped to rise. According to Eden, by 2027 sales of these power devices could total more than $10 billion.
Many of the world's leading manufacturers of silicon-based power semiconductors are preparing for this shift to wide bandgap devices by developing either GaN or SiC technology. Infineon has gone even further, developing both flavours - and at CS International Peter Friedrichs, Senior Director for Silicon Carbide, offered an insight into the prospects for all three semiconductor technologies.
Friedrichs gave two examples of applications where SiC can prosper: in the solar invertor, where it can provide a 15-20 percent reduction in the bill of materials for the inverter manufacturer; and in an off-board charger for electric vehicles, where the introduction of SiC can simplify the system.
But despite the success for GaN - and also for SiC - Friedrichs doesn't anticipate a dramatic fall in the sales of silicon devices, arguing that analysts may be too optimistic in their predictions for sales growth of wide bandgap devices.
In the LED sector, there have been minimal margins in mainstream applications for several years, and companies have continued to seek new, profitable opportunities. Horticulture is a promising option, and at CS International Jonathan Barton, Business Development Director at Plessey Semiconductors cited figures from Strategies Unlimited, suggesting that this sector could create an LED lighting market worth nearly $10 billion by 2021. In many greenhouses, LED-based sources are replacing high-pressure sodium lamps because they are more efficient, run cooler, last longer, and most important of all, can deliver a spectral output optimised for crop growth.
Further growth in the compound semiconductor industry will come from the roll-out of 5G. Eric Higham, Director for the GaAs and Compound Semiconductor Technologies Service at Strategies Analytics, told delegates at CS International that 5G would "benefit everyone in the room". Infrastructure could be based on many different compound semiconductor technologies, according to Higham, who offered further good news: current efforts suggest that 5G deployment is ahead of schedule. Another technology that would be welcomed by many, and has compound semiconductors at its heart, is wireless charging. EPC is a leader in this and at CS International Nick Cataldo, Senior Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing, detailed development of a GaN-based technology that enables lamps, laptops and screens, all sitting on one desk, to be powered by wireless technology.
In addition to hearing many insightful talks, delegates at CS International attended the seventh CS Industry Awards. The prize for Innovation went to Veeco, while Wolfspeed picked up the award for Device Design and Packaging, Beneq netted the High-Volume Manufacturing Award, KLA-Tencor claimed the Metrology Award, and the award for Substrates and Materials went to ALLOS Semiconductors.