From fibre-optic communications and wireless networks, to optical storage devices and advanced medical equipment, optoelectronics are becoming an increasingly vital part of today's technology. They are the unseen backbone of a vast number of products, enabling the inter-conversion of optical and electronic information and include products as diverse as semiconductor lasers, light emitting diodes (LEDs), photodetectors and optical-electrical transducers.
To ensure the reliable performance of these precision devices over time, their manufacture must be held to high tolerances as a purchaser may reject a batch of thousands of diodes if just a single defect is found in test samples. The needs of modern telecommunication and electronic products also present a variety of manufacturing challenges for which manufacturers and engineers must be ever vigilant. Imperfections in crystal growth, coating inconsistencies, particulate contamination, overspray and edge chips are just a few of these common errors that can result in millions of lost devices, delayed production and in worst cases, lost contracts.
Avoiding these pitfalls necessitates the ability to closely inspect material surfaces and key device features that affect operating parameters. For this, optoelectronic engineers rely on many of the same methods used in the semiconductor and microelectronic industries, as well as specialized techniques including:
As the boundaries of the optoelectronic design continue to be pushed to new frontiers, the use of these and other microscopy systems will become increasingly important to minimize the likelihood of stray batches, optimize production rates and safely increase yields.
Key techniques and instruments: stereomicroscopy, transmitted and reflected light illumination, inverted microscopes, video measuring systems, digital cameras, NIS-Elements