Taiwan LED makers hike quotes for photo couplers

Siu Han, Taipei; Adam Hwang, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Viewing that demand for infrared (IR) LED photo couplers has remained strong since 2020, Taiwan-based Lite-On Technology and Everlight Electronics have raised quotes by 10-20% and 10-30%, respectively in the first quarter of 2021.

Besides, Opto Tech, a Taiwan-based maker of Si-based sensors of which photo transistors are used in photo couplers, hiked quoted for Si-based sensors by 10-15% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2020 with Taiwan-based fellow maker Tyntek also following suit by cutting 5-10% in the first quarter of 2021.

Two main China-based electric home appliance vendors placed orders for photo couplers with Everlight at the beginning of 2021. As an ordinary air conditioner is equipped with 1-2 photo couplers, while an energy-saving frequency-variable one is equipped with 4-5 ones, demand for photo couplers used in electric home appliances has increased.

In view of strong demand for photo couplers, Lite-On will expand its IR LED device production capacity by 15-20% in 2021, while Everlight will expand monthly packaging capacity for photo couplers by about 300 million IR LED chips in 2021, with the new capacity to come into operation in the second or third quarter of the year.

Lead time for photo couplers is as long as 4-5 months at present, and Lite-On and Everlight expect utilization of the corresponding production capacities to remain at a full level until August 2021.

Tyntek will start operation of monthly production capacity equivalent to 10,000 6-inch epitaxial wafers in the third quarter. However, use of 6-inch epitaxial wafers to produce Si-based sensors for use in photo couplers is not economical in terms of production cost. This means that Tyntek keeps using 5-inch epitaxial wafers to produce such Si-based sensors and the corresponding capacity, despite short of demand, will not be expanded.

In contrast, Opto Tech will expand production capacity for Si-based sensors used in photo couplers by 5-10% in 2021.

Fast growing demand for fast power chargers and charging piles for electric vehicles (EVs) has led to required higher specifications for photo couplers. In addition, deployment of 5G base stations, EV-use battery management systems and industrial control entail use of high-quality photo couplers. Therefore, demand for photo couplers is on the rise.