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26 February 2007


Aonex and Kyma collaborate to cut blue laser and LED substrate costs

Aonex Technologies Inc of Pasadena, CA, USA has entered into a collaborative agreement with Kyma Technologies Inc of Raleigh, NC, USA to develop materials to reduce the cost of manufacturing gallium nitride-based devices such as blue laser diodes and LEDs (driven by demand for HD-DVD/Blu-Ray DVD player and solid-state lighting applications, respectively).

Aonex, which is a majority-owned subsidiary of Arrowhead Research Corp, will provide access to its proprietary A-Sapph wafer technology to Kyma, which was spun out of North Carolina State University in 1998 to develop GaN substrate materials for nitride devices.

A-Sapph substrates consist of an ultra-thin layer of single-crystal sapphire (less than 500nm thick) that is bonded to a polycrystalline aluminum nitride support substrate. The resulting substrate has a coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) that is nearly identical to GaN yet offers an industry-standard sapphire growth surface (both c- and r-plane) suitable for MOCVD and HVPE growth. The substrates also offer higher thermal conductivity than bulk sapphire, resulting in improved growth uniformity. Together, these characteristics could enable the scaling of GaN production to larger wafer diameters, which could dramatically reduce the cost of GaN devices by enabling an increase in the number of chips per wafer while also improving yields, says Aonex.

Kyma will work to leverage A-Sapph’s properties to produce large-area wafers suitable for GaN device manufacturing. “The combined attributes of Aonex’s A-Sapph substrate technology and Kyma’s proprietary high-growth-rate, low-defect-density GaN crystal growth technology have great potential to reduce the costs of a broad range of high-performance nitride semiconductor devices,” reckons Dr Keith Evans, Kyma’s president and CEO.

Arrowhead says that the agreement is part of Aonex’s program to sample its substrates to select device and wafer manufacturers. In addition to A-Sapph, Aonex also offers A-GaN substrates, which consist of ultra-thin layers of single-crystal GaN bonded to a polycrystalline AlN support wafer (offering a lower-cost alternative to bulk GaN wafers).

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