Thomas J. Brukilacchio, Co-Founder
The global market of lighting systems has undergone massive changes in the past decade, and at the forefront of this transformation are LEDs. The light-emitting diodes are prevalent not only due to their aesthetics but also because of their remarkable energy efficiency. LEDs consume 90% less energy and last 40 times longer than standard CFLs, accounting for over fifty thousand hours of lifespan. Despite these benefits, the adoption of LEDs in some industry-specific applications—such as the lithographic process —has been slow-footed for quite some time. What is the rationale behind this? The answer lies in the dominance of lasers and lack of technology to deal effectively with Lambertian sources such as LEDs.
Unlike lasers, the photons emitted by an LED scatter in very wide angles. The lion’s share of applications in the semiconductor industry requires photons to be delivered uniformly and with high intensity, making LEDs somewhat unfavorable for conventional designs. On the other hand, laser light’s inherent properties make it easier to deliver to target. Moving the needle here is Innovations in Optics. “With our proprietary optical designs and chip-on-board (COB) technology, we are able to capture the LED photons that would otherwise be lost, creating a homogenized, high radiance output that enables LEDs to replace lasers at a fraction of the cost” begins Kiyomi Monro, VP of Business Development, Sales and Marketing at Innovations in Optics, Inc. [IOI]
Founded in 1993 by Dr. Thomas Brukilacchio as an optics consulting firm, Innovations in Optics pivoted to optical products about a decade ago. Since then, the company has been consistently growing, and in the years between 2019 and 2021 has reached record revenues. Innovations in Optics successfully bridges the gap between high photon density requirements and cost-effectiveness needed for high-volume manufacturing applications—whether exposure or inspection. Today, Innovations in Optics operates from a facility in Woburn, Massachusetts, where its R&D, manufacturing, sales, admin, and warehouse teams work in tandem to produce high technology LED illumination sources and systems in high volume. IOI’s core technology enables it to incorporate standard off-the shelf LED chips into high performance devices for numerous applications.
Innovations in Optics’ proprietary die bond and wire bond processes and COB Technology enable it to manufacture multi-die LED arrays across a wide range of wavelengths. IOI’s proprietary thermal management maintains low LED p-n junction temperature even under extreme drive conditions. Thus, the LED chips produce significantly higher output without sacrificing lifetime. In addition, IOI’s patented non-imaging optics, compound parabolic concentrators, and tapers collect and homogenize the photons to provide highly uniform output.
Furthermore, IOI designs and produces high performance constant current digital drivers and controllers designed specifically for LEDs to ensure maximum output and long lifetime. Consequently, Innovations in Optics’ LED arrays offer superior performance in inspection and lithographic processes where lasers are predominantly used. The standard UV illuminators’ output power is over 35W, and the company’s new products offer nearly 40W, at an order of magnitude less cost than conventional lasers delivering comparable output and wavelengths.
Our longstanding success stems from our intellectual property, proprietary processes, and ability to manufacture in high volumes. We straddle the worlds of high-volume manufacturing and sophisticated technology development to achieve performance from an LED that is difficult to obtain
Apart from the SEMI and microelectronics industry, Innovations in Optics’ products are also employed in bioinstrumentation, medical, and industrial applications including real-time PCR for DNA analysis, endoscopy, ophthalmology, remote inspection, machine vision, and 3D polymer printing. Innovations in Optics serves these applications with LumiDLTM Illuminators, LumiBrightTM UV & Visible LED Light Engines, LumiBlaze(R)TM, LumiFiberTM, Lumi3DTM, and LumiSpectraTM. These illuminators are actively utilized in maskless lithography, 3D printing, CTP/CTS digital printings, fluorescence excitation, UV-photocuring, forensics, photolithography, and FPD inspection. Monro adds, “Our longstanding success stems from our intellectual property, proprietary processes, and ability to manufacture in high volumes. We straddle the worlds of high-volume manufacturing and sophisticated technology development to achieve performance from an LED that is difficult to obtain.” With such experience and technological capabilities, Innovations in Optics, over the years, has acquired numerous clients who have successfully integrated its products. Monro cites a customer-success story of a digital lithography application.
Companies often use UV laser diodes and high-power DPSS mode locked UV lasers in the digital lithography space, commonly referred to as Laser Direct Imaging, or LDI. Lasers’ limitations become a challenge here because photoresist responds to multiple wavelengths; Innovations in Optics’ client, using UV lasers, found their output to be suboptimal. Using its proprietary COB and recycling optics, Innovations in Optics developed a high-power LED illuminator that includes multiple wavelengths that improved the client’s lithographic processes. By replacing the expensive LDI light engines with LED illuminators, the client improved cost of ownership of their tool. For several other customers, Innovations in Optics has supplanted mercury, xenon, and tungsten halogen arc lamps and enabled them to make their facilities more power-efficient, cost-efficient, and environmentally friendly. Keeping up with the growing need for sustainable energy sources for mitigating the climate crisis, the company supplies solar simulators to one of the world’s largest solar panel makers.
Having already delivered over 30,000 devices, including over 2000 high powered UV illuminators, IOI is well positioned for continued growth. Recently, the company has invested in additional capital equipment, including an automated die bonder which will increase capacity by 400%. “We see a significant demand in the Digital Lithography space, and we are preparing our facility to meet that demand” Monro elaborates. Innovations in Optics employs “copy exact” manufacturing processes serving both the microelectronic and medical industries. In fact, IOI received a quality rating of “Excellent” from one of the world’s top 10 medical device manufacturers during its supplier audit.
With its innovative and proprietary technology, Innovations in Optics is on route to redefining the status quo of the global semiconductor arena.