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IQE connects you to the world

By LVEDC Staff on November 26, 2012

After a rough last couple of years the economy has indeed stabilized. But not every sector of the economy gave cause for a visit to the psychologist’s couch during the last few years. The mobile phone industry, for example, was particularly resilient with worldwide mobile phone and Smartphone sales reaching all-time highs.

That’s good news for IQE Inc., who is a global supplier of advance semiconductor wafer products and service to the semiconductor industry.

“This company is a forward-thinking organization that is well-positioned to take advantage of an emerging market,” noted Steve Gergar, Vice President and General Manager of IQE.

IQE, a Southside Bethlehem Keystone Innovation Zone company, knows how important Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation is to the financial future of the region.

“LVEDC helps businesses like ours accomplish our best by creating a favorable landscape to succeed by leveraging their relationships and knowledge with their public- and private-sector partners,” he added.

Origins

Situated on Technology Drive in Southside Bethlehem, IQE has a proud history. And no member of IQE is better equipped to dispense with the details than David Hartzell, IQE’s Sales Operations Manager.

IQE, (originally QED) has grown from a single-manufacturing operation in Bethlehem and later merged with EPI another semiconductor company from Cardiff, Wales in the United Kingdom, to form IQE and grow to its current position of six manufacturing sites across three continents and a global customer base.

The company’s roots are intertwined with the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Lehigh University and venture capitalists and began in 1989 with just three people and a dream. Hartzell joined the team one year later.

“We were basically at the Mountaintop Campus for about five years,” Hartzell said.  Eventually the company moved their operations to Technology Drive, expanding their operations and acquiring that facility that is a perfect fit for their operations.

In 1999 a merger with the European company EPI sent the company public on the London Stock Exchange to form the name IQE. The impetus for the merger was based on a synergy in the product line between the two companies, creating the largest compound semi-conductor wafer company in the world, said Gergar.

IQE employs a technique called Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) to make epiwafers for telecommunications, optoelectronics and electronic applications.

“Most of what we make goes into power amplifiers that ultimately go into cell phones,” said Rodney Pelzel, Director of Operations at IQE. “Or anything that is wireless communications, including any type of cell tower or radar applications.”

Gergar explains that back in day, the wafers were made out of silicon throughout the industry.  IQE uses gallium arsenide, which is much more efficient, according to Gergar.

There are also optical applications that IQE can supply companies , such as lasers, LEDs and photodetectors, said Pelzel.

“For example, the red lights in copier type applications all the way up to solid-state lighting,” said Pelzel. “In many ways you were taking a common, overriding technology of growing these type of wafers, through different techniques, and penetrating different markets. For us here at IQE it was the wireless  market.”

The wireless market is like the gift that keeps giving, positioning the group with high-volume sales and the expectation of additional gains in the future. That noted, the company is diversified and recognizes the tactical advantages of research to make a foray into other markets that are undergoing rapid development. IQE ascertains further near-term, high-growth potential and product diversity from them. Over the next decade the company was the beneficiary of sustained growth, primarily servicing the optical communications and solar energy markets.

The future for IQE is limitless. They have the product, the know-how and the temerity to get the job done.

“It’s great to be at IQE and we are very excited about our position moving forward,” Gergar said.

Sure enough.

The third and last of the 2012 Connections & Solutions series workshops

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