SOPHIA ANTIPOLIS, France – October 04, 2022 │ From now on, KnowMade will release a monthly newsletter for GaN technology, covering electronics and optoelectronics applications. The company explains the reasons why it eventually decided to provide this new product to the GaN community.
The scientific and patenting activities related to GaN technology are booming
KnowMade has been monitoring the GaN scientific and patent landscapes for more than ten years now. The company has witnessed significant growth in activity in both landscapes over the last decade. By way of example, the number of new patent applications related to GaN technology published in 2019 was more than twice the number of publications in 2015. Today, on average, KnowMade identifies more than 200 scientific papers and more than 250 new patent applications every month related to GaN technology. Let’s debrief the recent activity in the different fields of application for GaN technology.
Optoelectronics: new applications emerging for GaN technology
Lately, the patenting and scientific activities related to GaN optoelectronics have been partly driven by the development of UV optoelectronic devices, especially deep-UV light-emitting diodes (UVC LEDs), spurred on recently by pandemic demand for disinfection devices. Although several players have made substantial progress and reached the performance and cost specifications of early adopters, there remains a need to significantly improve cost and efficiency for larger market acceptance, driving the publication of numerous related patent filings and scientific works every month.
What’s more, new applications have emerged for GaN LEDs, laser diodes (LDs) and photodetectors (PDs) in micro-displays (smart lighting, smart phones/watches, AR/VR in smart glasses, flexible micro-displays, etc.) and visible light communications (for high-speed transmissions in 6G networks, aircraft & underwater communications, communications in hazardous environments, etc.). This is driving the development of new generations of photonic devices and the publication of numerous patents and scientific papers every month with a view to produce high-resolution, high-brightness, GaN-based micro-displays for instance, in a cost-effective way. In the last couple of months, KnowMade identified more than 250 GaN optoelectronics patent applications and more than 120 scientific articles in this field (Figure 1).
Electronics: GaN power devices have the wind in their sails
Today, GaN technology is well established in radiofrequency (RF) applications. Scientific and patenting activity regarding RF GaN devices has been slowing down in the last few years. Still, KnowMade identifies about 25 scientific publications every month, most of them from China (≈50%) and India (≈20%). What’s more, 30 to 50 new RF GaN patent applications are published every month. The domination of Chinese players in the recent patenting activity is even more important seeing as they have published almost 70% of the new patent applications every month, far ahead of US, Japanese and European patent applicants (≈30%).
Beyond the improvement and scaling of the current RF GaN HEMT technology, researchers/inventors are investigating new technological ways for future high-power RF electronics, including for instance 3-D GaN nanostructures (e.g., AlGaN/GaN MIS FinFET), alternative substrates (e.g., AlN) and/or epi-structures (e.g., based on N-polar III-nitrides).
Lately, the main driver for the patenting and scientific activities around GaN electronics has been power applications rather than RF applications, with notably more power-related scientific papers (Figure 1) and double the number of power-related patents published every month. Yet the domination of Chinese players in the scientific and patenting activities is once again verified for power applications, with slightly different ratios between Chinese players on the one hand (≈60%), and US, Japanese and European players on the other (≈30%). However, India does not play as significant a role in either the scientific or patent landscape for power applications as it does in the RF GaN scientific landscape.
Over the last few months, normally-off device structures, especially GaN HEMTs with p-type gate, have been a major focus in the GaN community according to the number of related scientific publications (more than 25% of all papers related to GaN electronics). Furthermore, the activities related to GaN vertical devices continue to gain momentum, representing on average over 25% of scientific papers and about 10% of new patent publications related to GaN electronics.
Huge GaN markets are opening up, revealing players’ ambitions
According to market intelligence companies, the power GaN and RF GaN markets are entering a high-growth phase. In optoelectronics as well, there are significant opportunities for GaN technology coming in the next years. The UVC LED market is finally taking off, while the size of the global micro-display market is expected to reach $4.2 billion by 2025 according to Yole Intelligence. On the other hand, the overall visible light communication market is predicted to grow rapidly, at a CAGR of 101% over the period 2020-2027, according to Mordor Intelligence. Accordingly, many newcomers are looking forward to positioning themselves in these sizeable markets, thereby challenging the status of historical and well-established players in the different competitive landscapes.
What is the GaN newsletter about?
In such a context, KnowMade is not just offering a monitoring service which will free up valuable time for all professionals involved in GaN technology, saving them the burden of searching multiple databases and sorting hundreds of documents every month. It is not just about providing direct and easy access to all the relevant content that will keep them updated with the recent R&D and IP developments in GaN technology.
Indeed, to address a market with brand-new technology, even the largest companies usually need to combine their internal innovation resources with external innovation sources, spurring partnerships/collaborations and triggering mergers and acquisitions across the whole supply chain. With the GaN newsletter, KnowMade provides a cost-efficient way to detect new players worldwide early on, to access their recent R&D activities and latest collaborations. All put together, the different pieces of the puzzle provide a complete picture of the different players’ strategies to enter the market at the right time, with the right products.
A quick look at Figure 2 shows that companies are not only active in the patent landscape, but also demonstrate significant activity in the scientific landscape, including integrators, device manufacturers, start-up companies, equipment and/or material suppliers, etc. Combining both patent and paper analyses provides answers to many questions you might have about the players in your ecosystem: are they direct competitors to your activities? Are they potential partners for your laboratory or company? Are they potential customers for developing your business? Are they interesting targets for a strategic acquisition? In the end, the GaN newsletter is also about detecting timely new threats and opportunities for your activities.
As such, the GaN newsletter might be valuable not only for researchers and IP professionals, but also for engineering and commercial teams. Furthermore, it is meant to be a powerful tool in the hands of marketing and innovation strategists.
A double format to address the content of the GaN newsletter
From now on, every month KnowMade will provide its subscribers with:
- A newsletter (PDF format) covering GaN optoelectronic and electronic scientific publications, the latest news from the GaN industry, and a selection of new stand-out patent applications related to GaN technology.
- An up-to-date database (Excel format) that covers all GaN scientific publications (optoelectronics, electronics, MEMS & sensors, PV & energy harvesting, nano-objects, non-polar & semi-polar, fundamental & materials) and all the news from the GaN industry.
Since the information is well categorized between optoelectronics, electronics, and other applications, the subscriber is able to focus easily on the publications that are relevant to its activities.
In the basic version of the GaN newsletter, the GaN database includes only the scientific publications and industry news. As mentioned previously, scientific publications already provide substantial information about the companies engaged in the development of GaN technology. Yet KnowMade also offers a premium version of the GaN newsletter to include the new patent applications in the database (Figure 3). In so doing, the company aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the competitive landscapes by combining scientific and IP perspectives. In the future, KnowMade will keep striving to further improve the features of its GaN newsletter to better meet the needs of its large audience.
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About the author
Rémi Comyn works for KnowMade as a Patent Analyst in the field of Compound Semiconductors and Electronics. He holds a PhD in Physics from the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis (France) in partnership with CRHEA-CNRS (Sophia-Antipolis, France) and the University of Sherbrooke (Québec, Canada). Rémi previously worked in compound semiconductors research laboratory as Research Engineer.
KnowMade is a Technology Intelligence and IP Strategy consulting company specialized in analysis of patents and scientific information. The company helps innovative companies and R&D organizations to understand their competitive landscape, follow technology trends, and find out opportunities and threats in terms of technology and patents.
KnowMade’s analysts combine their strong technology expertise and in-depth knowledge of patents with powerful analytics tools and methodologies to turn patents and scientific information into business-oriented report for decision makers working in R&D, Innovation Strategy, Intellectual Property, and Marketing. Our experts provide prior art search, patent landscape analysis, scientific literature analysis, patent valuation, IP due diligence and freedom-to-operate analysis. In parallel the company proposes litigation/licensing support, technology scouting and IP/technology watch service.
KnowMade has a solid expertise in Compound Semiconductors, Power Electronics, Batteries, RF Technologies & Wireless Communications, Solid-State Lighting & Display, Photonics, Memories, MEMS & Solid-State Sensors/Actuators, Semiconductor Manufacturing, Packaging & Assembly, Medical Devices, Medical Imaging, Microfluidics, Biotechnology, Pharmaceutics, and Agri-Food.