4 August 2010


IQE’s NanoGaN granted patents for nanocolumn technology

Epiwafer foundry and substrate maker IQE plc of Cardiff, Wales, UK says that gallium nitride substrate subsidiary NanoGaN Ltd has been granted two separate patents in relation to its nanocolumn technology for the production of blue and green lasers and LEDs.

Granted by the Japan Patent Office, patent 2008-549935 (‘Growth method using nanostructure compliant layers and HVPE for producing high quality compound semiconductor materials’) protects IQE Group's proprietary nanocolumn technology for producing free-standing gallium nitride (GaN) substrates, which are critical for manufacturing high-quality blue and green semiconductor lasers and ultra-high-brightness LEDs for solid-state lighting (SSL).

Granted by the UK patent office, patent 2446471 (‘Production of semiconductor devices’) protects the manufacturing of semiconductor devices (including laser diodes, LEDs and solar cells) directly onto the nanocolumn platform, expanding the number and type of substrates that can be used for epitaxy.

The production of blue and green semiconductor lasers and ultra-high-brightness LEDs requires stable, high-quality substrates with minimal crystalline defects (such as threading dislocations) to increase yield and hence reduce manufacturing costs. IQE acquired NanoGaN in October 2009 with the aim of helping it complete the development of commercial products and then to transfer the technology to its high-volume production facilities.

The acquisition complemented and enhanced IQE’s product portfolio by accelerating its strategic plans in the emerging high-growth markets for advanced laser projection, high-definition optical storage (including BluRay products), high-resolution laser printing, and SSL for industrial, commercial and residential lighting. It is envisaged that NanoGaN’s core technology may also be used to enhance IQE’s position in the supply of GaN products for high-power RF applications.

“The granting of these patents covers all of the essential technologies for producing free-standing gallium nitride using our proprietary hydride vapor phase epitaxy (HVPE) process and nanocolumn growth technique,” says NanoGaN's founder professor Wang Nang Wang (chief scientific adviser to IQE’s board).

“Adding these new patents to our existing portfolios, combined with strong internal practices to protect intellectual property and know-how, plays a vital role in ensuring IQE’s position as a global leader in the manufacture and supply of advanced semiconductor wafer products for the wireless, optoelectronic and solar industry sectors,” comments IQE’s CEO & president Dr Drew Nelson.

*On Monday, IQE’s share price hit an eight-year high of 23p per share. The firm recently published a trading updated stating that, as a result of stronger-than-expected wireless product sales and increasing demand for optoelectronic and silicon-based wafers, it expects first-half 2010 performance to be significantly ahead of market expectations, with revenue of at least £32.8m (up more than 50% on first-half 2009), earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) above £5.3m (up 178%, illustrating the group’s powerful operational leverage), and retained profit of more than £2m. IQE will publish its interim results on 1 September.

See related items:

IQE completes NanoGaN acquisition

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