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Soitec and Sumitomo Electric develop new engineered GaN substrates


SOITEC and Sumitomo Electric Industries have reached a major milestone in their strategic joint development program started in December 2010. They have demonstrated four- and six-inch engineered GaN substrates and are launching pilot production lines in Itami, Japan, and Bernin, France to enable wider market adoption. The pilot lines will initially fabricate four-inch wafers with six-inch wafer production to quickly follow to support customer demand.


These substrates are produced by transferring ultra-thin high quality GaN layers from a single GaN wafer to produce multiple engineered GaN substrates. Leveraging Sumitomo Electric's manufacturing technology for GaN wafers and Soitec's proven Smart Cut layer- transfer technology, this strategic alliance project had originally produced two-inch wafers.


Sumitomo Electric will manufacture bulk free-standing GaN substrates in Japan for shipment to France, where Soitec will apply its Smart Cut layer-transfer process to generate the final engineered wafers with the same thermal expansion as GaN wafers. The resulting wafers have low defect density, enabling the manufacturing of advanced semiconductor devices at lower costs than bulk GaN wafers.


"Our partnership's successful demonstration of four- and six-inch engineered GaN substrates' scalability is a critical milestone, accomplished by applying very strong innovative capabilities from both sides," said Frédéric Dupont, vice president of Soitec's Specialty Electronics Business Unit. "The advanced substrates we are developing will allow the introduction of a new materials platform with novel and advanced functionalities."


Laser market hits the spot


THE laser market surpassed expectations in 2010 and 2011, growing 52% since the low in 2009 and setting a new record and is anticipated to exceed $9 billion by 2015. Sales for lasers slowed in late 2011 in the uncertain economic climate, but the outlook for long-term growth is still strong. Sales for 2012 are expected to be approximately flat, with growth returning in 2013 and reaching $9.4 billion by 2015. These are among the findings in the report, "The Worldwide Market for Lasers: Market Review and Forecast - 2012", from Strategies Unlimited.


Fibre laser sales in 2011 grew 114% over the 2008 level, thanks to strong sales in kilowatt lasers for sheet metal cutting and pulsed lasers for marking. IPG Photonics regained its 70% share among fibre laser suppliers with the recovery. A looming question is how many other suppliers can capture sales in the lucrative kilowatt fibre laser segment?


Strong sales in tablet computers and smartphones helped sales of laser-based


EV Group and Eulitha to make HB-LEDs more


affordable EV Group (EVG) has signed a joint- development and licensing agreement with Eulitha AG. Eulitha is a pioneer in the production of high-quality nanostructures using advanced lithography techniques. EVG will integrate Eulitha’s PHABLE mask-based UV photolithography technology with EVG’s automated mask aligner product platform with the goal of developing a low-cost-of-ownership (CoO) nanopatterning solution to enable the production of HB-LEDs.


According to Strategies Unlimited, the market for high-brightness LEDs is expected to grow from $11.2 billion in 2010 to $16.2 billion in 2014, driven by applications such as TV backlighting, mobile devices and increasingly by lighting. To meet this increased demand, LED manufacturers need new manufacturing solutions that can increase the lighting efficiency of their products while keeping manufacturing costs down. Through their joint- development agreement, EV Group and Eulitha will explore new manufacturing technologies that support LED manufacturers’ cost and technology requirements.


equipment for semiconductor, display, and electronics fabrication. Sales of biomedical instrumentation also helped the recovery. Military spending has peaked, but many programs that use laser-based equipment will have a long tail, or even long term growth, such as infrared countermeasures and dazzlers.


Only lasers for data storage are in for harder times, as prices decline and the world turns more toward other forms of storage. But even there, lasers show promise in enabling magnetic storage to achieve the next generation in hard drives, possibly opening a large new opportunity for lasers.


Combining Eulitha’s full-field exposure technology with EVG’s well-established mask alignment platform provides low- cost, automated fabrication of photonic nanostructures over large areas, and supports the production of energy efficient LEDs, solar cells and LCDs. It combines the low cost, ease-of-use and non-contact capabilities of proximity lithography with sub-micron resolution—making it ideally suited for use in patterning sapphire substrates in order to enhance the light extraction (and efficiency) of LED devices.


EVG plans to offer a PHABLE-enabled EVG620 system as an extension to its well-established mask alignment system platform—giving customers an even wider choice of configuration options.


January/February 2012 www.compoundsemiconductor.net 9


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