Agilent SPG Selloff Speculation Reported Widely
June 14, 2005...Agilent Technologies’ Semiconductor Products Group is beginning the process of actively looking for buyers, according to the Wall Street Journal, EE Times, and Reuters. The Semiconductor Products Group (SPG), based in San Jose, California USA, includes the LED business that went to Agilent when it spun off from Hewlett Packard. In addition, the company holds co-ownership in the joint venture with Philips, Lumileds Lighting. The reports speculated that the price for Agilent’s SPG unit could range from $1.5 to $2.0 billion.
While many of the reports were based upon conjecture, they provided further analysis with reported financial results of the company. According to EE Times the SPG unit “contributed $2.0 billion to Agilent’s $7.0 billion in revenue.” As reported by our journals in December, ( Ref: article ) Philips executive VP and CEO of their solid state lighting group, Peter van Strijp, reported that Lumileds' revenue for 2004 was $280 million. He also said that Philips net income from the 50-50 JV partnership amounted to $62 million. Our readers can surmise that Agilent’s net income from Lumileds would also be about $62 million. Speculation of a selloff centers on Philips who may opt for 100% ownership of Lumileds, who manufactures all colors of LEDs including white. Some industry watchers are hoping for a Lumileds IPO. An outside party with money could also potentially be the buyer. The fate of Agilent’s SPG unit and Lumileds remains to be seen. For details read the June 14th McDonald Report
HRL Laboratories to Provide GaN Device Fab Services
CompoundSemi News Staff
June 14, 2005...HRL Laboratories of Malibu, California USA has elected to open their normally prototyping doors to the merchant market and offer custom gallium nitride (GaN)
device fabrication services. Included are HFET and MMIC prototyping, plus a design kit to help engineers
communicate their design specifications and needs. According to a report
over IOP's Compound Semiconductor website, HRL has reportedly developed a method for manufacturing the HFET devices on 100mm GaN
substrates and their MMICs on 3-inch wafers.
The current commercial prototype service is only for 75mm
GaN substrates. The frequency range covered by the service runs from the ultra-high
frequency, through the “Q-band.”
HRL is considered a major compound semi industry research facility and is currently co-owned by Raytheon, Boeing, and General Motors who comprise the lab's
LLC members. HRL was originally called Hughes Research Laboratory and founded
by the eccentric and legendary Howard Hughes of Hughes Aircraft (and movie) fame. While not a direct winner of the recent Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA), GaN funding, HRL's close affiliation with Raytheon will undoubtedly allow them to contribute to that program in addition to becoming an important member
of the relatively short list of preferred GaN fabricators due their long-standing reputation in innovative design development and services. (Ref: editorial).
SemiSouth Closes Round A Funding
June 14, 2005...Another group of investors have become silicon carbide (SiC) believers. SemiSouth Laboratories Inc. of Starkville, Mississippi USA, a provider of SiC power electronics devices and epiwafer materials, has closed its series A funding round after raising an undisclosed sum from Delta Capital, Southern Appalachian Fund, II-VI, Inc. and accredited private investors. SemiSouth says it will focus on its customers in the SiC and power electronics areas. "We are selling to several customers who have asked us to expand our capacity to meet their needs. This investment will allow us to accommodate their requests, and we are actively putting these resources in place to help our customers grow," Jeff Casady, SemiSouth president and co-founder commented.
David Latham, a partner with Delta Capital added, "We are very excited about being shareholders of SemiSouth for a number of reasons. We believe their technology and expertise will give them a strong competitive advantage in the emerging SiC space. In addition, we were impressed with the entire management team in their understanding and expertise in the SiC market. Finally, their strategic relationships with II-VI and Mississippi State University (MSU) are very valuable and will be beneficial as the company continues to grow." Company News Release
Update on Oxford Instruments Collaboration With University of Manchester
June 10, 2005...The School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Manchester,
says it houses the most advanced compound semiconductor material growth system
in the UK. Oxford Instruments has donated the V100 molecular beam epitaxy (MBE)
system as part of the facility collaboration with the University of Manchester.
The state-of-the-art V100 system can grow on 6 in. substrates. It boasts what
the company says is one of the highest process stabilities in the world while
providing increased uniformity, greater capacity, and greater throughput than
most systems. The system adds to the facility’s existing V90H reactor.
Oxford Instruments has agreed to invest £240,000 over a three-year period
for the ongoing costs of the laboratory and its equipment.
Oxford Instruments has hired Dr. Colin Mitchell as their research associate
at the laboratory. “This facility is regarded as one of the best in
the country for research and we provide material for research institutes and
industry worldwide. We can provide a full process from initial design, materials
growth and characterization, all the way to device fabrication and testing,”
said Dr. Mitchell. “This enables us to provide a unique service to
industry, investigating growth solutions for their devices, and using our experience
and knowledge to demonstrate how to fully utilize the impressive capabilities
of Oxford Instruments’ growth systems.”
The laboratory currently uses the V100 to produce high-speed low-noise transistors
and develop Quantum Dot and Quantum Cascade lasers, in addition to photodetectors
for infrared applications. The facility has also ‘spun-off’ an ISO9001:2000
certified company (ICS Ltd) for the commercial supply of material grown on the
V90H. Material supplied from ICS is used in the ‘Adaptive Cruise Control’
car-radar systems fitted to BMW and Jaguar cars. One goal of the collaboration,
which is in its twelfth year, is to research and develop materials, devices
and subsystems facilitating the next generation of integrated communication
The ongoing collaboration is headed by Professor Mohamed Missous, chair of
Semiconductor Materials and Devices at the University of Manchester. Professor
Missous commented, “We are pleased to strengthen our relationship
with Oxford Instruments ever further.” He added, “Together
we can address cutting-edge applications and continue to push the boundaries
in compound semiconductors.”
Cree Awarded Contract for High Voltage Power Management Systems and Debuts Two New LED Chips
June 9, 2005...The United States Office of Naval Intelligence has awarded Cree Inc. a $12 million dollar, 18-month contract to develop silicon carbide (SiC)-based high voltage, power management systems. The goal of this Phase II contract in the development initiative would be to reduce the size and weight of the high power electronic devices and power management equipment aboard aircraft carriers.
The USA's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding the contract under its Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Technology Initiative for High Power Electronics (WBST-HPE) the focus of which is to develop high power conversion and distribution technology. Cree has successfully completed its $8.3 million contract for Phase I of this initiative.
Other USA companies will reap some of the benefits of Cree’s windfall with subcontracts from Cree. Powerex, of Youngwood, Pennsylvania will be hired to perform module design and testing. Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems of Sudbury, Maryland, and General Atomics of San Diego, California, will perform systems studies on the solid-state power supplies proposed for this application. In addition, Carnegie Mellon University and North Carolina State University will also participate in development effort. Company News Release
In other Cree news, the company has developed two new LED chips, the MegaBright 290 Gen 2 and the RazerThin 230. The RazerThin 230 uses 8% less power than previous generation chips and is targeted at keyboard backlighting applications which require low power consumption to extend battery life and low cost. “Higher brightness and lower power consumption are the driving requirements of the LED chip industry and the MegaBright 290 Gen 2 chip demonstrates a convergence of both features," states Scott Schwab, Cree vice president and general manager of optoelectronics. Company News Release
Toshiba of Japan Announces HD-DVD Recorder
CompoundSemi News Staff
June 9, 2005...Toshiba has reached what it considers another milestone in the race to standardize a new, higher capacity format for DVDs. Toshiba Corporation of Tokyo, Japan announced that it has developed the technology to produce recordable High Definition DVDs. The company developed the technology jointly with its Japanese DVD format allies, Kagaku Media Company and Hayashibara Biochemical Laboratories Inc. The single-recording HD DVD disks have a capacity of 15-gigabytes. Toshiba points out one advantage of their HD-DVD recorder; recordable disk manufacturers only have to make minor modifications to produce the new recordable HD-DVD disks.
Hitachi Maxell Ltd. and Mitsubishi Kagaku will begin marketing the new HD-DVD-R disks next spring to coincide with the beginning sales of Toshiba’s HD-DVD recorder. Many industry observers are quick to point out that early marketing and sales of a new DVD format does not necessarily mean early adoption by consumers, the ultimate judges in the race for a new higher capacity DVD format.
Sony Corporation with its Blu-Ray DVD technology is Toshiba's main competition in this race for a high-capacity DVD standard. (Ref: article) Both companies have gained many allies on their sides. Whichever side that wins will help the compoundsemi industry because both new DVD formats, Toshiba's HD-DVD, and Sony's Blu-Ray, require the use of blue laser diodes made from GaN-based compound semiconductors. Current DVD players use red laser diodes, which are based on GaInP or AlGaInP compound semi materials.
Editor's Note: Our apologies for an earlier report on this, mistakenly crediting silicon as the material used in red laser diodes. Silicon continually moves quickly in its technological innovation, but it still does not emit enough light to produce commercially viable LEDs nor laser diodes. Please address any corrections to existing articles, or suggestions for news coverage to our news editor, Scott McMahan. His email is: scottmc @ compoundsemi.com.
Phosphor Technology Discussions Highlighted at Blue 2005
June 8, 2005...As Jed Dorsheimer, equity research analyst of Adams Harkness and Hill, said
during his Blue 2005 presentation about intellectual property and patents, 2005
may indeed become known as the “Year of the Phosphor.” (Ref: article).
For this reason, CompoundSemi Online, the event coordinators, invited leading phosphor technology innovators to the event, Phosphortech
of Atlanta, Georgia USA, and Intematix of Moraga, California USA. Dr. Christopher J.
Summers, CEO of Phosphortech of Atlanta, Georgia USA, a company that has won
five small business innovative research awards from the US government, discussed some non-proprietary phosphor solutions
for white LEDS. Dr. Yi-Qun Li, director of research and development at Intematix,
also spoke at Blue 2005. He discussed Intematix's technology and method for
rapid phosphor discovery. If you attended Blue 2005 and would like access to this and all the other presentations, click www.compoundsemi.com/blue2005/presentations/
and login with a user name and password we provide. If you did not attend but would like access, send a request to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tom Griffiths will get back to you with details. Content continues for LIGHTimes SecondPage members...
Aixtron AG Centralizes Sales, Service, and Support
CompoundSemi News Staff
June 8, 2005...Until now Aixtron AG has operated Thomas Swan, Epigress, and Genus as separate
entities. As part of its strategic expansion, Aixtron of Aachen, Germany, a
provider of chemical vapor disposition (CVD) equipment for compound semi epitaxy
announced the establishment of Aixtron Europe to centralize all the sales, service,
and spare parts for all Aixtron products including: Thomas Swan, Epigress, and
Genus for the company’s European customers. Thomas Swan and Epigress were
acquired by Aixtron in 1999, and Genus was acquired earlier this year.
Dr. Frank Schulte, who has more than 20 years experience in the semiconductor
industry with 15 of it at Aixtron setting up a subsidiary in Japan, will serve
as director of Aixtron Europe. Aixtron AG executive vice president, Dr. Bernd
Schulte stated, “The establishment of Aixtron Europe follows AIXTRON’s
long-term strategy to focus its service and support to the customers.”
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