“Glass substrate revenue reached almost US$196 million in 2019 and is expected to exceed US$580 million by 2025, mainly supported by fan-out wafer-level packages (FO WLP), wafer level optics, actuators, MEMS and sensors.” asserted Amandine Pizzagalli, technology and market analyst, Equipment & Materials, Semiconductor Manufacturing at Yole Développement (Yole). Initially driven by CMOS image sensors (CIS) and MEMS applications, this growing industry will be supported by relevant end-applications such as microfluidics and FO WLP, where glass will further penetrate. Commercialization will be helped by increasing demand from photonics, memory and logic devices.”

In this context, the market research and strategy consulting company investigates disruptive semiconductor manufacturing technologies and related markets. Yole’s analysts point out the latest innovations and underline the business opportunities in a new semiconductor manufacturing report: Glass Substrate for Semiconductor Applications.

This study delivers a comprehensive overview of the glass substrate industry, for semiconductor applications. This report details the status of the glass material, the substrate industry and its evolution. Including market trends, shares and forecasts, supply chain, technology trends, competitive landscape, key technical insights, roadmaps, applications, Yole’s glass report describes the status of glass material adoption and the various type of glass materials available on the market. This study also identifies established and emerging applications. It provides trends and drivers and points out key benefits and added value of the glass materials in the semiconductor industry.

What is the status of the glass industry for semiconductor applications? What are the economic and technological challenges of the glass industry? What are the key drivers? Who are the suppliers to watch, and what innovative technologies are they working on? Yole presents its vision of the glass substrates industry.

Glass is a common material already employed in everyday applications, including windows, eyeglasses and bottles. Over the last few years, glass has gained considerable interest for electronic components, due to its very attractive electrical, physical and chemical properties, as well as its prospects for a relevant, cost-efficient solution.

The application scope of glass substrates in the semiconductor field is broad and highly diversified. Glass material can adopt various functionalities within IC and semiconductor devices, such as actuators, MEMS and sensors, CIS, memory and logic, RF, power electronics, photonics, microfluidics devices as well as the FO WLP technology platform.

Therefore, both market segments, CIS and microfluidics are clearly pushing the glass substrate market. Yole’s analysts announce US$270 million and US$145 million revenue by 2025 for both applications, respectively.

First, imaging and sensing applications are thriving in most markets and behind that, the CIS industry is exploding. Its size is approaching US$21 billion in 2020, according to Yole. In this context, analysts announce a 5.7 percent CAGR until 2025, that will enhance the growth of the glass substrate market. In parallel, the microfluidic industry is boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In its latest microfluidic report, Yole points out a US$24.5 billion market by 2025 with an impressive 14 percent CAGR between 2019 and 2025.

Of course, microfluidics and CIS are not the only market drivers to watch. FO WLP, memory, power electronics and more are part of the game. But how could glass be used? What is its added value? The semiconductor manufacturing team from Yole has deeply analyzed the latest technology trends and developed a dedicated roadmap. Today, with their new report, Glass Substrate for Semiconductor Application, analysts give their understanding of the technology. Within the semiconductor manufacturing industry, glass substrate is key. It presents multi ways to be used/integrated:

• First, the permanent support glass substrates that undergo many fabrication process steps, such as etching, deposition of materials and photolithographic patterning

• Then WLC, which is based on mechanical sawing of a wafer cap above the sensor

• In addition, 3D through glass vias (TGV)/Glass interposer, referring to a structure integrating vertical through via electrical connections from top to underside, through silicon vias for interposers or TGV for glass interposers

• Wafer level optics is also possible. It is split into two main wafer-level elements
     o Refractive optical elements based on lenses structures so-called wafer-level-lenses
     o Diffractive optical elements including micro-optics for AR

• Moreover, infra-red cut-off filters processed on panel substrate. Its role is to keep infra-red away from CMOS devices that are sensitive to infra-red

• At the end, Yole’s analysts add the glass carriers used as temporary substrates to provide mechanical support for the thin silicon device wafers

According to Pizzagalli, “The demand for glass today is mostly driven by  wafer level capping and glass carriers, fueled mostly by MEMS, CIS and FO WLP. In the coming years, the availability of other glass functionalities such as TGV interposers, still perceived as immature, in conjunction with end-applications like RF devices, could be the driving force for growth. This will create new challenges and new technical developments along the way.”

Indeed, with a CAGR of 40 percent, the use of glass material for photonics will be glass’s fastest-growing field over the next five years due to the entrance of high-index material for waveguides dedicated to AR.

Additionally, RF devices and FO WLP will also provide nice niches with volume growth and a chance for any glass material supplier to penetrate the market. We expect an introduction of panel formats in those applications by 2023 for RF devices.

Moreover, memory applications will participate in the growth of the glass wafer market, driven by the adoption of glass carriers. Some memory manufacturers have already invested in laser debonding required for glass carriers.

“At Yole, we expect that the time for qualification could last two years before mass production can begin. This brings the earliest possible date for glass carrier mass production for memory to early 2022,” added Pizzagalli.

Therefore, the use of glass will certainly be on the high volume manufacturing roadmap within a few years for other semiconductor applications.