A wider perspective on the semiconductor Back-End industry

Developments in the semiconductors back-end industry led to a shift of perspective from electrical to photonic chips. Tensions in geopolitics (trade war between China and The United States), technical developments (5G network) and COVID-19 result in changes in the high-tech segment, especially when it comes to the semicon industry. All these factors empower the rise of a new generation in semiconductors, integrated photonics.

The rise of integrated photonics.
For many years now, Moore’s law pushes the technological developments in Front-End (wafer processing) semiconductor technologies. The introduction of photonic chips, amongst others, announces a new era. This chip transports data with light instead of electricity. Investment companies and governments have recently started investing in this new technology. The Netherlands has a big lead when it comes to Indium Phosphide front-end technologies. Companies that are actively involved in this field are mainly located in the Brainport region, where AAE is located as well. Since photonics is based on photons, as alternative for electrons, the main advantages are that chip-processors consume less energy, work at much higher speeds and produce less heat.

Why this is the right moment
These benefits are becoming an important solution when data consumption will keep increasing driven by the 4.0 Industry upswing. One of the first area’s for photonics are the data centers which can no longer keep up with the current infrastructure. In addition, Moore’s law is running up against its limitations and other solutions to increase the number of transistors and/or chips in one package (Advanced Packaging) are also being proactively sought. From this point of view, the need to push technical boundaries is no longer only found in the Front-end. The increasing complexity in Back-End processes opens new opportunities for companies like AAE.

From investing in the Front-End to innovating in the Back-End
For a long time, solutions to Moore’s challenge, were searched in Front-End technologies, minimizing the Critical Dimension. Nowadays, more emphasis for high-capacitive chip solutions is put in Back-End. This increases demands regarding Back-End complexity, especially when it comes to integrated photonics.

Competences like ‘Ultra Clean’, ‘Ultra Precise’ and ‘Machining Process Stability’ are no longer exclusively reserved for the Front-End of line, but gain importance in the Back-End as well. Automation and Inspection of the PIC-assembly process is a real challenge.

Reducing the time to market
The reason why this market fits well with AAE is partly due to our profile. In this emerging market niche, many start & scale-ups are in need for highly specialized design & manufacturing capacities and competences. AAE supports these initiatives and reduces time-to-market with its turn-key (co)-development, manufacturing and assembly operations.  AAE is an experienced High-Tech Equipment Design & Manufacturing company. With its flexibility, hands-on professionalism and family culture, we support OEM initiatives to move the world happily forward. On top of this the know-how, gained in other applications (i.e. life science, diagnostics, photovoltaic and semicon), empowers AAE  to add value when it comes to Back-End integrated photonics.


‘A wider perspective on the semiconductor Back-End industry’
By Rick Jongen – Graduate Intern at AAE b.v.

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