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Commentary: BLUE 2007 Tackles the End System Challenges
... Have you registered for BLUE 2007 yet? If not, better get at it! BLUE gets underway in Hsinchu, Taiwan before you know it. It begins April 17 at the Ambassador Hotel with a pre-conference workshop, and the main event begins Wednesday, April 19. This year we've divided BLUE into...
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Anadigics to Construct 6 Inch GaAs Wafer Fab in Kunshan, China
CompoundSemi News Staff

April 10, 2007...Anadigics Inc. of Warren, New Jersey USA, reported that it has entered into an investment contract with Kunshan New and Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone (KSND), to jointly construct a 6-inch gallium arsenide IC wafer fabrication facility in the city of Kunshan in the Jiangsu Province in China. Anadigics anticipates initially spending $10 to $15 million over the first two years of the project, which will begin in the fourth quarter of 2007, and expects to commence an initial production phase in the first quarter of 2009. After the initial investment the company expects the facility lifetime to be 50 years and their investment to reach an estimated $50 million to run through its lifetime.

“We’re very pleased to work with Vice Mayor Zhu and KSND to expand our wafer fabrication capacity in Kunshan,” said Dr. Bami Bastani, President and Chief Executive Officer of Anadigics, Inc. “This project is expected to provide us with an attractive cost structure and to enable us to meet our future fab capacity needs thereby contributing to the growth of our Company, as well as providing us with increased access to one of the fastest-growing markets for wireless and broadband communications.” Company News Release

WJ Communications Goes Fabless
CompoundSemi News Staff

April 10, 2007...WJ Communications, a radio frequency solution developer of San Jose, California USA, reported that it completed closing its gallium arsenide (GaAs) wafer fabrication facility in Fremont, California on March 30, 2007. The facility was part of the company’s 2004 acquisition of EIC inc. (Ref: Coverage). Plans to close the facility were announced in November 2006. (Ref: Coverage). The company plans to use Global Communication Semiconductors Inc. of Torrence, California to supply the GaAs and InGaP wafers.

Bruce Diamond, President and Chief Executive Officer of WJ Communications, stated, “Operating under a fabless business model will enable us to focus our resources on new product introductions for high growth markets, including Wireless Small Signal, Wireless Power, WiMax and RFID.” He added, “The associated cost savings of $1.0 to $1.25M per quarter will assist in further improving our financial performance in the coming quarters and years, making this an important milestone for WJ.” WJ Communications News Release

JDSU Appoints Optical Communications President; Introduces Optical Filters; Named Test and Measurment Company of the Year
CompoundSemi News Staff

April 10, 2007...JDSU of Milpitas, California USA, reported that it has appointed David Gudmundson as president of Optical Communications. JDSU says that Gudmundson will be responsible for Optical Communications sales, operations, and product development. Previously senior VP of corporate development and marketing, Mr. Gudmundson played an integral role in a number of strategic transactions including the acquisition of: Lightwave Electronics, Acterna, and Agility Communications. Company News Release.

JDSU also announced the introduction of two new optical filters, a laser line detection filter and a detector response filter. The laser line rejection filter is designed to be used in applications including night vision and laser based biomedical instrumentation. The detector response filter is designed to be used in remote sensing, homeland security instrumentation, and biomedical instrumentation. Company News Release. In other recent news Frost and Sullivan named JDSU “Test and Measurement Company of the Year.” Company News Release

BluGlass Boasts of Huge Savings of GaN on Glass
CompoundSemi News Staff

April 10, 2007...BluGlass of Australia reports that an independent assessment commissioned by Wright, Williams, & Kelly Inc. found that its remote plasma CVD (RPCVD) process for deposition of GaN on glass substrates can cut the cost of manufacturing GaN-based devices. BluGlass says the report shows that its process can yield up to 48 percent savings for LED epi on 2-inch diameter glass substrates compared to standard MOCVD on 2-inch sapphire substrates. Additionally the BluGlass points to a 70 percent reduction in material costs (largely because of the difference in price between sapphire and glass substrates and utilizing nitrogen instead of toxic ammonia.).

Additionally, BluGlass says that because of the greatly reduced temperature requirement of 700 degrees Celsius instead of around 1000 degrees Celsius for conventional MOCVD, the operating cost over the useful lifetime of a reactor (about 7 years) is about $8 million lower. Company Investor Presentation

CIGS Solar Startup, Solyndra Raises $79 Million
CompouondSemi News Staff

April 6, 2007...Solyndra, a Santa Clara, California startup, which will specialize in copper indium gallium selenium (CIGS) solar cells has raised $79 million in funding. CIGS manufacturing is expensive and startups in the field have to have vast infusions of capital to pay for the required manufacturing facilities. Investors in the new solar company include CMEA Ventures and Redpoint Ventures, CNET reported in an article. (Note: that article made several factual errors about the efficiency and manufacturing cost of CIGS photovoltaics.) According to another article, this in a VC publication, Solyndra's technology will be led by VP of Engineering Benny Buller, formerly a GM at Applied Materials.

CIGS technology is more efficient than conventional solar cells, but it also costs more to produce. Each company has its own recipe for CIGS photovoltaics. The main difference from company to company seems to be in manufacturing techniques and the type of surface upon which the CIGS material is deposited. There is no word yet on how Solyndra plans to manufacture the photovoltaics, or what material they will be manufactured on. However, the startup has a long list of job openings on its web site. Several other companies in the sector have recently received significant funding. Nanosolar recently announced raising $100 million. Austin-based Heliovolt also raised funds to set up its own facility.

Georgia Tech Researchers Produce Nanoscale Generator
CompoundSemi News Staff

April 6, 2007...Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia USA have developed a nanonscale generator that uses zinc oxide nanowires on a gallium arsenide, sapphire, or flexible polymer to generate a direct current by harnessing mechanical energy from environmental sources such as ultrasonic waves, mechanical vibration or blood flow. The nanogenerator utilizes small electrical charges created when the zinc oxide nanowires flex. The nanogenerator could provide power for nanoscale devices without batteries or other external power sources. Commenting on the R&D breakthrough, Zhong Lin Wang, Regents’ Professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech said, "This is a major step toward a portable, adaptable and cost-effective technology for powering nanoscale devices. There has been a lot of interest in making nanodevices, but we have tended not to think about how to power them. Our nanogenerator allows us to harvest or recycle energy from many sources to power these devices." An explanation about the nanogenerator will be reported in the April 6 issue of the journal Science. The Georgia Tech research was sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Emory-Georgia Tech Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence. Georgia Tech News Release

Technical University of Berlin Orders Thomas Swan System to Develop Nitride Alloy Materials
CompoundSemi News Staff

April 6, 2007...The Institute of Solid State Physics at the Technical University of Berlin has ordered a Thomas Swan epitaxial growth system from Aixtron. The system, which will be set up in the 3x3-inch configuration, will be used to develop GaN/ (Al, Ga, In ) nitride alloy based materials for optoelectronic devices such as lasers and LEDs. The materials will have high aluminum concentration and will go into lasers and ultra-violet LEDs. The new reactor will add to the University's other Aixtron systems, the AIX 200RF and the AIX 200/4 in the cleanrooms of the Eugene-Paul-Wigner Building.

The new system was chosen in part because of the Institute of Solid State Physics’ experiences with the other Aixtron systems. Professor Michael Kneissl, head of the Experimental Nanophysics and Photonics group, commented, “…The Thomas Swan 3x2 inch FT is clearly superior to other vertical systems in terms of process stability and precursor efficiency. It has demonstrated the process flexibility, uniformity in thickness, doping, and composition required for next-generation optoelectronic devices. It also supports a number of different in-situ control techniques. Alongside our existing systems it will be a useful platform for us to develop high-Al III-nitride laser diodes and high-brightness UV LEDs." Aixtron News Release

Strategy Analytics' GaAs Industry Forecast Due Out Today

April 4, 2007...The new 54 page GaAs Industry Forecast: 2006-2011 from Strategy Analytics of the UK is due out today. In it, author Asif Anwar reports that "Cellular handsets will continue to be the primary growth engine for the GaAs industry with Wi-Fi forecast to become the second largest market for GaAs. Overall, the market for GaAs devices will exceed $5 billion in 2011 and the corresponding market for GaAs substrates will be worth $480 million. VGF will be the underlying technology for bulk substrates while epitaxial substrates will remain evenly split between MOCVD and MBE technologies."

Hitachi Cable Says 4-Inch GaN Substrates Possible With New Growth Method

April 2, 2007...While attending the Japan Society of Applied Physics at Aoyama Gakuin University, Hitachi Cable Ltd. announced that it has created a highly reproduceable 3-inch gallium nitride substrate prototype, according to a Nikkei Electronics article. The company claims that it is the first company to release photos and data for 3-inch GaN substrates. The industry primarily utilizes 2-inch GaN substrates. During a presentation the company reportedly was asked the question, “How far can it grow in size?” A company spokesperson told Nikkei Electronics, “We believe 4-inch products can be produced with no difficulty if the production equipments are arranged accordingly."

The compound semi industry has devoted much effort to reducing manufacturing costs of components requiring GaN substrates. Increasing the substrate diameter is one method of decreasing the cost per component by allowing more components to be placed on a single substrate. Hitachi reported that it was able to produce a larger diameter substrate by using a new technique it developed which adds a thin “sacrifice layer” onto the base substrate upon which the GaN is grown using HVPE. The sacrifice layer has a microscopic void in between the thick film GaN and the base substrate. This allows for easier detachment of the thick film GaN, the article stated. The article also carries considerable technical details. Hitachi is calling their procedure, "the void-assisted separation method."

Next Gen DVD Player Prices Reach $500 Benchmark Sooner than Expected.

April 3, 2007...Samsung Electronics lowered the price for its Blu-ray Disc (BD) player BP-1000 by about 48% to US$469.99 in late March of 2007, a Digitimes article stated. Toshiba immediately responded by reducing the US retail price for its entry-level HD DVD player HD-A2 to US$399. The retail price for Blu-ray or HD DVD players was lowered to the benchmark of $499 two quarters sooner than expected, the article said. While the format war is by no means over, the lower prices will bring much more early adopters of next generation DVD technology.

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Commentary & Perspective...

BLUE 2007 Tackles the End System Challenges
Jo Ann McDonald, founding editor

April 10, 2007...Have you registered for BLUE 2007 yet? If not, better get at it! BLUE gets underway in Hsinchu, Taiwan before you know it. It begins April 17 at the Ambassador Hotel with a pre-conference workshop, and the main event begins Wednesday, April 19. This year we've divided BLUE into two separate (but obviously related) forums. Wednesday, the emphasis is on technology and day two, Thursday, April 20th, is the Business Forum. Theme for this year's BLUE event, the 5th annual, is "It's About the System". And for good reason. We think, and everyone seems to agree (especially lighting designers), that it is definitely time for the suppliers to the still-fledgling solid state lighting (SSL) industry to look forward, and beyond their wells of technical expertise. It's time for the supply chain to look more closely at the needs and desires of those to whom these wonderful blue spectrum LEDs are sold. Thus the moniker "blue" as our innovative SSL industry insiders meet in Hsinchu, Taiwan, where most of the blue spectrum LEDs are manufactured.

Those who work on the front lines of blue spectrum LEDs know them as blue, green, violet LEDs, that, when properly manipulated, produce brilliant white, energy efficient light. Lighting designers look at these as simply white LEDs that make great flashlights, nightlights and fairy lights, but wonder, "Can they really prove to be suitable replacements for conventional light sources... even CFL lightbulbs? While some brave lighting designers have already embraced solid state lighting, with under counter, commercial, architectural, or theatrical applications, the inroads thus far are only a fraction of what's possible. This year at BLUE we are tackling the question of how to take today's SSL technology to the next level. Lighting designers know what they want, and need, they just need to know how to get it.

That's what the SSL suppliers need to do. Deliver on our technology's promises. This has always been the challenge to the overall compound semiconductor (CS) industry. "You say the compounds can provide components that can enable smaller, faster, smarter, longer lasting, brighter, and ultimately more economical systems? Prove it!" The RF community proved it could be done. The solid state laser community proved it. So can compound semi solar cells and blue spectrum LEDs. With new materials, more manufacturable designs, better growth equipment, and much better packaging, white LEDs can become the true answer to replacing the Edison bulb.

I challenge attendees at BLUE 2007 in Hsinchu, Taiwan this year to take that next critical leap towards true SSL industry maturity. If you pay close attention to the messages our extremely knowledgeable and thought-provoking speakers deliver, you'll go away from this year's BLUE event a stronger, smarter SSL supplier. Setting the stage for transforming our attendees will be Brent York, our first keynote speaker who is also kindly serving as one of our co-chair for this year's BLUE. Title of Brent's talk is the theme of this year's BLUE, "It's About the System!" As the promo for his talk states, "A collection of components does not make a system. Building it right takes intention and attention to a number of factors that component suppliers might not realize. It will take systems to succeed in the larger marketplace and that requires systems-level thinking, regardless of your position on the supply chain." Brent York is one of the foremost experts in the industry on LED system integration and on the entire systems thought process. Obviously, the most influential of LED manufacturers thinks so too as Brent's company, TIR Systems of Burnaby, British Columbia in Canada, was recently acquired by Royal Philips Electronics.

Our special keynote speaker for BLUE brings the theme home as well. He's none other than Neal Hunter himself, co-founder and former president, CEO, and chairman of Cree and now co-founder and chairman of LED Lighting Fixtures Inc. The title of Neal's talk at the close of sessions on Wednesday is, "The Industry Succeeds Without the Hype".Neal genuinely believes that we really don't need the hype to be successful, and he knows what he's talking about as one of the founders of Cree. He's seen the entire CS industry flourish since its very beginnings in the mid-1980s when, as a young college graduate, he and a handful of his fellow North Carolina USA whiz kids in wide bandgap materials established a startup called Cree. Neal has seen both the CS and SSL industries bloom from a handful of seeds, and our BLUE event provides a rare opportunity for today's SSL suppliers to hear him speak about what it will really take for this industry to succeed. He'll underscore where major mistakes can be made, and thus avoided, that could set your company back as well as jeopardize the success of the entire fledgling SSL industry. Neal will convince you that, with real results, which customers can believe in, there's no need to inflate the claims nor fail in providing full disclosure. Neal is convinced that the SSL industry is holding a winning hand, and that what the SSL industry simply needs to play the game correctly at this stage.

You may have also noticed that B.J. Lee is another of our co-chairs? BJ is the CEO of Epistar, and it seems like every year we hold BLUE, Epistar just gets bigger and bigger. So big that it has now, officially, become a member of that prestigious club of LED giants, that includes Lumileds, Cree, Nichia, Osram Opto and Toyoda Gosei. So the original Big 5 is now the Big 6. BLUE 2007 is a rare opportunity to get to know BJ better. (Who knows, your company might be his next acquisition.) Another man you'll want to get to know better, which attending BLUE will allow you to do, is the man who is largely responsible for bringing BLUE to Taiwan in the first place, four years ago, our third co-chair, Robert Walker, CEO of BridgeLux. Prior to joining BridgeLux, the innovative LED design and manufacturing company that's based in Sunnyvale, California (in the heart of the USA's famous Silicon Valley), Bob served in various senior management positions within Emcore. During Bob's time at Emcore, much of the early blue spectrum LED work was conceived, while designing the first MOCVD growth systems for blue LEDs. Through the years, Bob has become regarded as one of the most noted Asian market experts in the CS and SSL industries. This resulted in him authoring the pivotal Asian LED producers report for Strategies Unlimited in 2004. Many of today's successes in Asia have been aided by the information Bob provided in that comprehensive study. BridgeLux is fortunate to have Bob at the helm. Getting an opportunity to talk candidly with Bob, if feel, could provide hidden keys for your own success. And speaking of Strategies Unlimited, the other keynote speaker you'll surely want to see and hear at BLUE is Dr. Robert Steele, SU's Director of Optoelectronics Practice. He is truly the guru of HB-LED market research.

So start thinking "the whole system" and take time, today, to register for BLUE 2007 and make your final plans to be there. Everything you need to get going is on the website. Read Tom Griffiths' latest editorial that first appeared April 9th in LIGHTimes and SSL Design. Tom not only our publisher and program chair for BLUE, he's also the catalyst for the new Solid State Lighting Industry Trade Association, SSLITA. In it, Tom presents the type challenges the systems integrators now place before the SSL suppliers: "Tell us how the devices and systems really perform, not how they theoretically perform; Give us performance curves (lumens/watt over the full range of input currents), not just a few performance points; Reduce the available number of failure points; Tell us what color it is in a way we understand it; and tell us how long it will produce good quality light." These are the same basic types of questions that the electronic system integrators needed from the component and subsystem designers once the integrated circuit came into vogue. As Tom underscores, "Been there, done that," so the SSL suppliers should be up to task. Attend BLUE 2007 to be sure you're on the right track.

As stated at the end of that excellent column by Tom as his personal invitation to BLUE: "Note to the lighting industry.... the LED supply chain employs some of the best and brightest you will ever meet and they will rise to the challenge. Challenge them. Note to the LED supply chain... welcome to professional leagues. A higher standard is now required. And you will want to be at the Ambassador Hsinchu Hotel in Taiwan next week for Blue 2007. Some of the best coaches in both the LED and solid state lighting industry have come to teach, so be ready to learn."

If you have news or views to share about the compound semiconductor, LED or solid state lighting industries
contact our Publisher, Tom Griffiths
His direct tel in Austin is +1-512-257-9888

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