X-FAB Becomes First Foundry to Offer Highly Ultra-Violet Sensitive Photo Diodes as Standard Process Option

Cost-Effective Integration of Photo Diodes with Excellent UV Quantum Efficiency Open New Application Areas

ERFURT, Germany — (BUSINESS WIRE) — April 28, 2015X-FAB Silicon Foundries, the leading More than Moore foundry, today announced the expansion of its 0.18 and 0.35 micrometer device portfolio with new highly sensitive ultra-violet photo diodes that are the first of their kind developed by a silicon foundry. Easily integrated into designs implemented in X-FAB’s modular XH018 and XH035 CMOS process technologies, these new diodes provide the highest quantum efficiency available from a silicon foundry. They cost-effectively open the door to a wide variety of wearable, medical and industrial applications that previously required dedicated processes or discrete diodes.

X-FAB’s new UV sensors are well suited for applications such as smart watches and smartphones that detect UV light. They also are valuable in the industrial sector for water purification and disinfection systems or for flame detection and other applications, and in the medical sector for light therapies or the detection of blood sugar in diabetes monitoring.

In X-FAB’s 0.35 micrometer foundry process, their quantum efficiency (measurement of a device's electrical sensitivity to light) especially in the UV-A and UV-B wavelength range is more than 70 percent, and in X-FAB’s 0.18 micrometer technology it is more than 50 percent. Such levels previously have been reported only for photo diodes manufactured with special processes that use back-side illumination, or for discrete UV photo diodes.

Even though they are optimized for UV light, the UV photo diodes offered by X-FAB also perform well in the visible and infra-red light spectrum, achieving a quantum efficiency rating higher than 70-percent for visible light. They support applications that require a broad wavelength range from UV to infra-red light, such as spectroscopy. Use of the new diodes provides the following benefits:

  • Designers can use just one proven photo diode structure for different wavelengths, resulting in cost efficiencies
  • Their very low dark current results in a good signal-to-noise ratio and could reduce the size of the photo diode for further cost reduction
  • As part of X-FAB’s standard CMOS process offerings, the integrated UV photo diodes allow customers to design integrated optoelectronic systems on a single chip instead of the two-chip solution previously required.

Detlef Sommer, Business Line Manager for X-FAB’s optoelectronic offering, explained the importance of the new UV sensors: “This expansion of X-FAB’s family of successful optoelectronic sensors already manufactured in high volumes for ambient light and proximity sensing allows our customers to venture into entirely new application areas. For example, the enhanced models of the XH018 UV diodes enable designers without special optical knowledge to design integrated optoelectronic systems.”

X-FAB will offer a free webinar covering the new UV sensors next week on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 for the North and South American audience, and on Wednesday, May 6 for designers in Asia and Europe. Interested parties also can visit X-FAB in Hall 12, Booth 582 at the Sensor + Test exhibition in Nuremberg, Germany on May 19-21. Dr. Christoph Henkel – one of the UV photo diode developers – also will present at the associated Sensor congress. Please visit www.xfab.com for more information about both events.


Both the new UV sensors and comprehensive process design kits (PDKs) for 0.35 and 0.18 micrometer technologies are available for immediate use. For XH018, a special dedicated VERILOG-A behavioral photo diode model for each photo diode will be provided by the end of June 2015. It enables designers to apply their customary electrical design flow to the complicated physical process of light sensing.

About X-FAB

X-FAB is the leading analog/mixed-signal and MEMS foundry group manufacturing silicon wafers for automotive, industrial, consumer, medical and other applications. Its customers worldwide benefit from the highest quality standards, manufacturing excellence and innovative solutions by using X-FAB’s modular CMOS processes in geometries ranging from 1.0 to 0.18 µm, and its special BCD, SOI and MEMS long-lifetime processes. X-FAB’s analog-digital integrated circuits (mixed-signal ICs), sensors and micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) are manufactured at five production facilities in Germany, Malaysia and the U.S. X-FAB employs 2,500 people worldwide. For more information, please visit www.xfab.com.


CMOS Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor
ICs Integrated Circuits
MEMS Microelectromechanical Systems
SOI Silicon on Insulator
UV Ultra-Violet
UV-A Type of ultraviolet radiation (380 - 315 nm wavelength)
UV-B Type of ultraviolet radiation (315 - 280 nm wavelength)

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