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Unikorn to make microLED for Epistar

III-V compound semiconductor maker Unikorn Semiconductor is expected to undertake outsourced production of microLED panels for LED epitaxial wafer and chip maker Epistar, according to industry sources.

Epistar in October 2018 spun off its semiconductor foundry business unit which became wholly-owned subsidiary, Unikorn. Later, Global Communication Semiconductors became a shareholder of Unikorn, the sources said.

Unikorn produces VCSEL, GaN-on-Si power components and other compound semiconductors. The company has annual production capacity of 10,000 4- and 6-inch epitaxial wafers currently. As production of microLED panels entails use of 6-inch epitaxy process, Unikorn will become the corresponding outsourced producer for Epistar, the sources explained.

As Unikorn has to make continued investment in production equipment, it is difficult for the company to swing from operating loss in 2020 to profitability in 2021, the sources noted.

The microLED market is still small, according to Epistar president Patrick Fan, but when the scale expands to 100,000 large-size display units monthly, the present size of capacity will not be enough.

To meet demand for miniLED backlighting, Epistar has modified 95% of blue-light LED chip production equipment in Taiwan for producing miniLEDs, the sources said, adding Epistar also plans to set up miniLED capacity in China, the sources noted.

Epistar and China-based LCD display vendor Leyard Optoelectronic have established a joint-venture for making miniLED and microLED - Lijin Microelectronics Technology (Jiangsu). Lijin began production of miniLED at year-end 2020 and has fully utilized its initial production capacity.