Initially used by U.S. military in 1960s, Silicon on Insulator is a technique IBM developed to fabricate semiconductors by using silicon oxide or pure silicon crystal for microchips and Integrated circuits. Processing speed of SOI microchip is 30% faster than CMOS (Complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) based chips. Power consumption of SOI chip is reduced by 80% which is ideal for mobile devices. Soft Errors like cosmic rays data corruption is reduced in SOI chips. In case of CMOS, chip stores an electric charge (called capacitance) due to impurities added by doping. This capacitance must be discharged and recharged to control the electrical current which causes transistors to heat up. This limits the speed of microchips. Silicon on Insulator chips are not doped and eliminate capacitance which allows them to operate faster.
Silicon on Insulator when combined with material which is radiation resistant makes it functional for applications like communication satellites which operate at higher temperature. Composition of Silicon on Insulators include thin silicon as the topmost layer, silicon dioxide (insulating material) as the middle layer, and thick silicon as the lowermost layer. The thickness of silicon layer depends on the application of the product, which is high performance microprocessor or electrical switching device. Based on thickness of silicon layer there are two types of Silicon on Insulators wafers: thin-film Silicon on Insulator wafers and thick–film Silicon on Insulator wafers.
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Drivers for Silicon on Insulator market include rise in demand for microcontrollers, microprocessors and gaming consoles, increasing demand in emerging countries of Asia Pacific. Other driver for rising demand in Silicon on Insulator market is their major application in mobile phones. Increasing demand can also be attributed to their application in notebooks, digital cameras and other electronic devices. Increasing usage of Silicon on Insulator in satellite communication due to communication bandwidth exponential broadening will also drive the market. Another significant market for Silicon on Insulator is military and aerospace. With increasing investment in carbon footprint reduction the market will see further growth. Rise in development of Photovoltaic technology will also drive the market.
With sturdy operation capability and application in satellite sensors demand for Silicon on Insulator will increase. The major challenge faced by the market is that Silicon on Insulator has manufacturing process which is time consuming. Price volatility along with high cost of raw materials is another factor negatively impacting the market. Intricate design during product development is also the reason for less growth in the market. Opportunities for advancement in thermal capacity and radiation resistance are there.
The Silicon on Insulator market can be segmented by application into automotive, computing & mobile markets. The market can also be segmented by product into MEMS, RF SOI, optical SOI, memory device, SOI transistor, and image sensor markets. We can also segment the market by technology into ELTRAN (Epitaxial Layer Transfer), BESOI (Bond and Etch-Back SOI), SIMOX (Separation by Implantation of Oxygen), SOS (Silicon-On-Sapphire), and smart-cut.
In America market, U.S. holds the major market. In Europe, Germany, France, and U.K. are the major markets. In APAC region Japan, Taiwan, and China are the major markets as they are growing markets for electronic devices. Increasing government funding and R&D investment for Aerospace and Military Silicon on Insulator research projects in Americas and Europe will increase the demand in the market. Strong programs like clean energy and increasing renewable energy technological investments will increase the market demand in North America and Western Europe.
Key players of the Silicon Insulator market are Applied Material Inc. (U.S.), Free scale Semiconductors (U.S.), ARM Holding (U.K.), IBM Corp. (U.S.), Global Foundries (U.S.), Soitec SA (France), Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Ltd. (Japan), STMicroelectronics (Switzerland), Synopsis Inc.(U.S.), SunEdison (U.S.), Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. (Taiwan), and United Microchip Corp. (Taiwan).