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19 March 2009


NTT divests InP chip division to Optrans

Kawasaki-based Optrans Japan Corp, which makes optoelectronic assemblies and components (including LEDs and photodetectors), has acquired the operations and patented technology of the specialty microchip division of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Advanced Technology (NTT-AT). The move comes as a result of NTT-AT (a subsidiary of NTT, the largest telecoms company in Asia) opting to focus on its software segment.

Supported by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), NTT-AT has developed epitaxial crystal manufacturing growth technology, and has been researching the feasibility of manufacturing ultra-high-speed indium phosphide (InP) microchips in volume, with the goal of reducing the price and broadening applications for the technology.

Founded in 1987 by president Katsuya Homma, Optrans Japan says that it was chosen to acquire the specialty microchip division on the basis of its manufacturing expertise, R&D, and possession of a key patent required for the mass-production process that would hasten its commercialization. NTT-AT has transferred the division to Optrans together with its research, prototypes, patents, laboratory staff, and customers. Initial production will begin in Japan as early as spring 2009, says Homma.   

The InP chips being manufactured by Optrans have a wide range of applications, particularly in telecoms and satellites. To date, InP microchips have been used primarily in the defense industry, where price is less of a limitation. However, Optrans’ target is to manufacture 12,500 wafers annually by 2010. Such a mass-production level is projected to reduce costs by two-thirds, opening up new applications in telecoms, transportation and other industries.

The firm says that, compared to lower-cost microchips currently in use, InP chips can dramatically increase the reliability and speed of fiber-optic networks and satellite-to-ground transmission, improve the accuracy and speed of light-sensor reaction, and have other potential applications including rear collision sensors in automobiles.

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