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14 December 2007


Novalux outsources wafer processing

Novalux Inc of Sunnyvale, CA, USA has sold its wafer fabrication facility to an undisclosed Silicon Valley firm in a transaction that closed late last month.

Novalux is still growing epiwafers for its Novalux extended-cavity surface-emitting laser (Necsel) devices at its main Sunnyvale facility. However, the wafers are then shipped to two large-capacity contract manufacturers in Taiwan: one that processes the wafer through dicing and another that attaches the die to sub-mounts and performs the final testing.

“We’ve qualified and frozen our chip design and processes,” says chief operating officer William Mackenzie. “This has enabled us to move our Necsel wafer processing from our prototype quick-turn fab, with its very limited capacity, to much larger contract manufacturing facilities in Taiwan,” he adds. Novalux then provides the resulting laser array to partner companies, including Oerlikon, Young Optics and Seiko-Epson, who finish and package the visible red/green/blue (RGB) lasers for delivery to consumer electronics companies.

Novalux, which was founded in 1998, says that outsourcing wafer processing is a key step in transition from low-volume prototype manufacturing to mass-producing lasers for high-volume consumer electronics applications.

Necsel lasers are set to be used in lighting and display devices ranging from laser high-definition projection TV (HDTV) to embedded projectors in cell phones and PDAs. The firm also recently demonstrated the first laser LCD-TV back-light unit (BLU) and prototype laser architectural tube lighting.

“As per our business roadmap, Novalux is evolving into a fabless, high-volume, low-cost Necsel laser producer for consumer electronics applications,” says Mackenzie. “The contract manufacturers we’ve chosen for wafer processing are sophisticated operations that can mass-produce higher-quality, more consistent lasers at a lower cost than we could do locally. This is a critical step toward meeting customer demands for Necsel production parts in early 2008,” he adds. “We’re preparing to ramp up laser production very quickly and efficiently.”

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