HOME  ›  What's KYOTO SEMICONDUCTOR  ›  What is an optical semiconductor?


What is an optical semiconductor?

What is the "optical" in optical semiconductor?

Light is classified in the same category as X-rays used at hospitals and electric waves used for TV and mobile phones: they are all electromagnetic waves. The difference between light and electric waves is in their wavelengths, as shown in the figure below.


What is the "semiconductor" in optical semiconductor device?

Semiconductors have properties that place them between conductors and insulators. Materials are classified as conductors, semiconductors, or insulators, according to their electrical conductivity. Typical conductors are gold, silver, and copper. Materials like rubber, glass, ceramic, and plastic are classified as insulators. Typical semiconductors are silicon, germanium, and furthermore compound semiconductors (GaAs, GaP, GaN and InP), with silicon the most widely used.
Semiconductor transistors support the foundation of modern society, and integrated circuits (ICs) made up of millions of transistors are semiconductor products

Next to oxygen, silicon is the most abundant element in the earth's crust, and is always found in sand and stone in nature. Germanium, silicon, and compound semiconductor elements are generally refined from raw ore.

What is the "device" in optical semiconductor device?

A device is a piece of equipment used for a particular purpose. Optical semiconductor devices have a minutely detailed structure that allows them to convert electricity into light or light into electricity.

What is an optical semiconductor?

Optical semiconductor devices are divided into two major groups: luminescent devices (light-emitting diodes and laser diodes), and light-receiving devices (solar cells and photo-detectors). The wavelengths of the light depend on the optical semiconductor materials used.

Deep UV AlGaN / GaN on Sapphire
Violet, Blue InGaN / GaN on Sapphire
Green GaP on GaP
Yellow AlInGaP on GaAs
Red GaAlAs on GaAs
Infrared GaAlAs on GaAs
Near infrared InGaAs on InP (for Photo-detector)
InGaAsP on InP (for LED)

While some materials are made of a single element such as Si and Ge, other materials, like those shown above, are made of several elements and are called compound semiconductors.

What is a compound semiconductor?

While Si and Ge are mainly used for photo-detectors due to their extremely low luminous efficiency, compound semiconductors are used for LEDs and laser diodes due to their high luminous efficiency. Furthermore, compound semiconductors are suitable for high-speed operation and are used in high-speed photodiodes for optical communications.

A wide range of applications for optical semiconductors ---------


Wireless remote controllers for products like TVs and air conditioners transmit and receive information using infrared rays. CD and DVD called as optical media are used to write and read information on a storage medium by light. Electrical equipment using light is literally everywhere we look.

As you know, incandescent and fluorescent lamps, which are used to be the dominant lighting, are recently and rapidly being replaced by light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.
Same movements are very often seen for traffic signals, as well as in flashlights and car headlights.
These LEDs are one type of optical semiconductor device.

Search Product

*Enter a Model No. (prefix/partial match)

New Products

Si APD module KPM100
Si APD module integrated with a high speed transimpedance amplifier and a high voltage bias source.
Low profile parallel beam LED KED050-H23
Parallel beam LED with a newly designed low profile lens for optical encoders.
Photovoltaic power converter KPC8-T
High efficient power converter from 1300-1600nm laser light into electrical power.

News & Topics

  • Our Action against Coronavirus (COVID-19)

    As regards the infection prevalence, we are taking the following measures to mitigate the infection risk in order to protect our employees and clients, stakeholders from the virus.

    ・Frequent wash hands and gargle throat thoroughly with a sanitizer and clean flowing water.
    ・Encourage our visitors to sanitize their hands with an equipped sanitizer.
    ・Allow staggered working hours to mitigate the infection risk by avoiding rush hour commuting by public transportations.
    (Headquarters and Tokyo sales office only)

    ■The period of the staggered working hours :
    ※We may extend the introduction period depending on circumstances.
  • *Event Cancelled IR + UV EXPO(OPIE'20),
    Apr.22~24, 2020 (Pacifico Yokohama, Japan / Booth#F-52)
  • KYOTO SEMICONDUCTOR Co., Ltd. will exhibit at Photonics West2020
    February 4 to 6, 2020 (The Moscone Center, San Francisco, California, USA / Booth #2267)