Most of all semiconductors produced these days are made from silicon, as it is easy and cheap to manufacture in very well researched bulk processes.

But some electronic devices require the physical properties of other materials, like some high-speed transistors or light emitting diodes. Depending on the wavelength you want to emit, you use materials with an according band gap, like AlGaAs, GaAsP, or InGaN.

But my question is: How large is the percentage of these non-silicon materials in overall production capacity for semiconductors?

I guess it will be difficult to give an exact number, but I would like to know at least an educated guess. Is the non-silicon part vanishing in the x-th decimal place, because microchips are absolutly dominating the semiconductor market? Or is maybe the rising production of LEDs increasing the percentage to several percent?

EDIT: I'm mainly refering to the produced chip area, but if this information is even less available than e.g. the volume of used material, then this might also be an interesting information.

I'm aware that manufactures will not give detailed numbers about this, if any at all, but there are always some analyists, making guesses at least about the order of magnitude we are talking about.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you tried googling for an answer? \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Mar 26, 2019 at 9:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ It will even be difficult to get a "ball park" number if you ask me. It is difficult to get numbers for quantities produced from manufacturers. Most manufacturers only publish their numbers in $$, not in quantities as number of devices or amount (volume) of silicon used. Also, you should define what you mean by percentage. Percentage of volume of the materials, number of devices, or produced area? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 26, 2019 at 9:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Obviously I did the googling before asking, yes... Did I miss the one link, where they do tell us a number? ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – jusaca
    Mar 26, 2019 at 9:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ "But some electronic devices require the physical properties of other materials" - no, ALL electronic devices require the physical properties of other materials. \$\endgroup\$
    – Finbarr
    Mar 26, 2019 at 10:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Chip Area is not a Value metric reported. Sales and WPM (wafers per month) is available on paid reports, which you are asking for free..... \$\endgroup\$ Mar 29, 2019 at 1:47

1 Answer 1


How large is the percentage of these non silicon materials in overall production capacity for semiconductors?

The best thing is to look at market share, because the only people that are interested in this info are interested in global market trends. Entites aggregating this info are not interested in chip area, so you probably won't find that, and that doesn't really matter because a Sic mosfet will have a different area than a different device such as an LED. There are a few reports like these:

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Source: https://www.technavio.com/report/global-compound-semiconductor-market?utm_source=t4&utm_medium=bw&utm_campaign=businesswire

enter image description here
Source: https://www.openpr.com/news/1162014/Compound-Semiconductor-Market-Trends-and-Growth-Segmentation-and-Key-Companies-IQE-PLC-Sumitomo-Electric-Industries-SCIOCS.html

  • \$\begingroup\$ Amazed you found a way to locate relevant data for this. I see that the graphs don't carry over eachothers time frame, but do appear to differ quite a bit. Any idea if this is because they relate to different markets, measurement methods or sources? Put together they imply GaAs went from 79% to 10% market share year to year, SiC from 3% to 35%, GaN 14% to 25%, etc. They both appear to be global studies and specifically related to the compound semiconductor market so I find the implied year to year quite odd. \$\endgroup\$
    – K H
    Mar 28, 2019 at 22:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is very interesting, although I do not really understand these fluctuations. But it is only comparing compound semiconductors among each other and not with plane silicon. \$\endgroup\$
    – jusaca
    Mar 29, 2019 at 9:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KH you could go to the first company and see if they had a report with the same graph for each year, that's a little beyond my pay grade however \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike
    Mar 29, 2019 at 14:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jusaca These come from business reports that are 10's or 100's of pages long. They might explain the reasoning behind the data, or you could contact the company directly (and they'd probably want money) to get more info \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike
    Mar 29, 2019 at 14:46

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