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Market trends for optoelectronic components

Posted: 16 May 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:optoelectronics? optocoupler? dwdm? vcsel? oled?

As optoelectronic solutions continue to penetrate wireless multimedia applications, the trend in device innovation will be toward smaller surface-mount packages, lower voltages andfor certain applicationslonger-distance transmission capabilities. However, the specifics of growth will vary from device type to device type.

Infrared data transceivers

Infrared data transceivers enable short-distance wireless communication between notebook computers, mobile phones, printers, PDAs and other handheld devices. A dominant trend in the infrared transceiver market is toward faster communication rates. Where mobile phones once supported data rates of 115Kbps, they have recently increased to 1Mbps. Where PDAs typically supported only 115Kbps, most are considering 1Mbps and some, like the Compaq iPaq, already support 4Mbps. And where notebooks and digital cameras commonly transmit at 4Mbps, designers are now exploring 16Mbps implementation. With these faster data rates, Vishay is the only infrared transceiver supplier to offer transceivers for all data rates.

In the established market, some trends are clear. While the absolute number of notebook implementations has remained constant, it is significant that infrared transceivers are becoming a standard feature on high-end and low-cost notebooks. The PDA and mobile phone markets are where the largest growth is occurring, particularly in new designs coming from China, Singapore, Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Asia tends to lead the world in early adoption of new technologies and infrared communication is no exception. As an offshoot of the PDA market, new applications are being brought to market that allow remote or field programming, access control and data downloads without cables. Vishay supports both the established market and emerging market with worldwide, local applications support and development tools.

Optical sensors

Recent growth in the use of infrared sensors has been concentrated in the automotive segment. In automobiles, solid-state devices still share critical control functions with mechanical devices but the trend toward "drive-by-wire" is making steady progress.

Examples of automotive "body control" applications for which optosensors are becoming more and more common include rain sensors, windshield-mounted devices that detect the presence of rain and generate a signal to turn on the wipers. Optical sensors are also being used for power window control.

"Safety control" is a second category of automotive applications for which optosensors are increasingly in demand. Electronic stability program (ESP) features, for example, are enabled by optosensors that detect the steering angle and allow digital components to activate braking automatically and take other corrective measures to compensate for too much or too little steering on the part of the driver. And eventually, this method of steering will be the norm.

Infrared receivers

Vishay boosted its capacity for IR receiver production by more than 25 percent last year and currently, the company is manufacturing the devices at a rate of approximately one million per day. Despite the large volumes in which they are produced, the design and manufacture of infrared receivers remains an exacting science. Unlike emitter devices, which need merely to send out a focused infrared beam, IR receivers need a high level of sensitivity to distinguish between infrared signals and the all the other forms of energy, including sunlight and energy-saving lamps, that may be present where they are used. IR receiver modules achieve this sensitivity with an internal metal shield and with intelligent AGC circuitry, which suppresses the effect of such disturbances.

Multimedia is one of the fastest growing applications for infrared receivers, with devices being designed into interactive TV STBs, video conferencing systems, game controllers, interactive toys and wireless keyboards and mice. Because speed is essential for these applications, Vishay has introduced new multimedia infrared receivers that work at a frequency of 450kHz or at about ten times above the standard range of 30kHz to 56kHz that dominates the market. This HF avoids any problems with light interference and enables data transfer rates up to 20Kbps over 10m.

Solid trend

The major trend in LEDs is toward smaller, surface-mount packages such as the "mini toplet" for applications including automotive dashboard illumination and toward brighter devices that can be used in automotive and outdoor applications to replace incandescent lamps. Further increases in brightness are provided by new generations of products such as Vishay's TELUX series of high-intensity LEDs, which combine a wide viewing angle and high luminous flux for vehicle brake lights, taillights and turn signals, as well as traffic signs, outdoor message panels and warning lights.

The market for optocouplers and solid-state relays (SSRs), which are widely used in telecom applications, remains mixed. As with most electronic components, optocoupler design has tended toward smaller, surface-mount devices. Vishay is one of several suppliers that now offer surface-mount couplers with a height profile of just 2mm. The same trend toward smaller, surface-mount packages applies to SSRs as well and the recovery of the communications market is expected to generate a higher growth rate for both types of devices.

? Werner Schoeberl

Vishay Intertechnology

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