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Commentary: Shuji Wins
 
... Score a big one for all inventive technologists the world over, who know precisely what needs to be accomplished and are willing to put in the years of hard work and dedication required to achieve their goals. Shuji Nakamura's court win of 20 billion yen (USA $188.7 million at...
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Shuji Nakamura Wins $188.7 Million Settlement from Former Employer Nichia for Blue Spectrum Breakthrough Technology

January 30, 2004...After a long battle in the courts, Professor Shuji Nakamura of the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) has won an especially large settlement for his breakthrough work in the development of blue spectrum LEDs based on Group III Nitride materials. The work was originally performed during Shuji Nakamura's tenure at Nichia Corporation in Anan, Japan, where he was employed as an engineer from 1979 until 1999, the key blue spectrum patents having been originally established by Shuji, using his affiliation with Nichia, in the mid 1990s. The Japanese court award was for 20 billion Japanese yen ($188 million USA), the amount originally sought by Shuji Nakamura when filing his suit in August of 2001.

According to initial coverage in Japan via the Nikkei wire service, the size of Nichia at the time the work was done, and the lack of a clearcut holder of the actual patents involved, was a key issue. The Japanese court concluded that Nichia, which is headquartered in Anan, in the relatively remote Tokushima Prefecture, has subsequently earned 120.8 billion yen in royalties for the work initiated by Shuji Nakamura. The ruling is being considered by the international technology community as a huge triumph for the actual individual "inventor" behind a subsequently successful technology. In this case, the technology involved is based on Group III Nitride materials, aka "the blue spectrum," and a technology we specifically champion in CompoundSemi News and Nitride News.

Specifically, the court ruled that "an inventor's remuneration in the transfer of the patent should be based on his contribution to the invention," and thereby assessed that Shuji had contributed approximately 50% to the production of the original blue LED device, and therefore, that he should receive 60.4 billion yen in past compensation. Presiding over the suit was Japan's Judge Ryoichi Mimura who was quoted as saying, when handing down the ruling, that Shuji Nakamura deserved that amount because ''the invention was a totally rare example of a world-class invention achieved by the inventor's individual ability and unique ideas in a poor research environment at a small company.'' The ruling was immediately appealed by Nichia to the Tokyo High Court. Responding to questions from the Japanese press, Shuji Nakamura commented that he assumed the case will go to the Japanese Supreme Court.

While our coverage of Shuji Nakamura's incredible career dates back to 1995, for the benefit of our press colleagues in the mainstream technology and business press, an online archive of news relating to Shuji and to Nichia complete online coverage dating back to 2000 is available via the Nichia article search on CompoundSemi Online. Any and all of this information may be used by the press, and we would appreciate appropriate attribution. Shuji Nakamura is very well known to the compound semi community, and in addition to the many international technology honors he has received over the years for his breakthrough work in blue spectrum LEDs and laser diodes, he was presented CompoundSemi Online's first Pioneer Award at Blue 2003 in Dallas last summer. In 1999, just prior to his departure from Nichia, he conducted our original Nitride 101 workshop, which was videotaped and well-viewed internationally, included an on-camera interview relating his history of invention. This news first reported Friday. For follow-up information and an indepth editorial and historical perspective on this news, see our Feb 1 editorial, "Shuji Wins."

Emcore and Corona to Cross License Parallel Optical Transmitters and Receivers

February 1, 2004...Emcore Corporation of Somerset, New Jersey USA and Corona Optical Systems of Lombard, Illinois USA have announced that they have signed a cross licensing agreement for parallel optical transmitters and receivers. The agreement provides Emcore an exclusive license to manufacture and sell Corona's OptoCube 40 parallel optical transmitter and receiver modules. In return, Corona has obtained a license to manufacture and sell Emcore's Model 9512 twelve-channel parallel optical receiver and transmitter modules. The primary applications for these respective modules are distributed optical back planes, arrayed serial links at OC-48 and higher speeds, and optical ribbon cable for high-speed, logic-to-logic data links. Parallel optical modules are increasingly being used in high-speed computing, data communications, storage area networking and telecommunications applications. Bryan Gregory, Corona's Chief Marketing Officer and Founder, stated, "Corona’s alliance with a quality company like EMCORE furthers our goal of fully supporting our customers’ needs while continuing to bring exciting and innovative technology to market.“ Adding to that, Emcore's Hong Hou, VP of Emcore's Fiber Optics division in Albuquerque (and California) said, “The OptoCube 40 is an excellent addition to Emcore's portfolio given its small, compact size. Our agreement with Corona allows us to offer the same performance and quality that is featured in the 9512 family in a low-profile form factor. This agreement further demonstrates Emcore's commitment to our parallel optics product family. By having both products in our portfolio, Emcore continues to position itself as a dominant player for fiber optic solutions in the enterprise space." Company news release

Lockheed Teams with Northrop for Space Based System

February 1, 2004...There has been considerable consolidation in the USA defense industry, and some exceedingly large contracts going to them with the current USA administration's emphasis on defense buildup. And to score those lucrative contracts, we see that some of the big names are working even more closely than usual. Lockheed Martin, for example, has announced that they have selected Northrop Grumman Corporation (which now includes most of the old TRW) as LocMar's teammate in the competition to develop the Space Based Radar (SBR) system for the U.S. Air Force. The Space Based Radar mission is geared to providing worldwide, on demand, "persistent surveillance and reconnaissance for Department of Defense and national intelligence users." Scheduled for initial launch is in 2012, and the SBR system is slated to grow to a constellation of spacecraft to provide rapid-revisit coverage of the entire Earth's surface. Lockheed Martin Space Systems will lead the effort as the system prime contractor, while Northrop Grumman will serve as Lockheed Martin's primary teammate and subcontractor. Lockheed Martin has been under contract to the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center since December 2002 to perform trade studies and define alternative concepts for the SBR system. For those tracking these type defense contracts, extensive details on SBR are included in the company news release

Nortel Reports Continued Move Away from USA Market

February 1, 2004...Many of our readers were closely associated with Nortel Networks. Some still are. Nortel, which at its peak had 95,000 employees, today has only about 35.500 now, and in an interview recently with Nortel CEO Frank Dunn, the leader of this once powerhouse telecom company told Reuters that the percentage of revenue Nortel earns outside the United States is likely to grow in the coming year. Dunn said that demand from Europe for third-generation wireless phone service is likely shift more of its sales there. "We have a very big presence in North America, but we've invested a lot of effort into Asia and into Europe," the chief executive told Reuters in an interview. "You're going see us be more balanced. Right now we have about 52 percent of our revenue in the USA I think you're going to start to see, even though the USA is going to be a strong market ... that percentage come down." Dunn also said that the positive results recently posted by Nortel, moving into recovery, equated to him that he no longer had to run the business with the main focus on cutting jobs to cope with falling demand caused by the bursting of the tech bubble. "If it's a good business case to put more investment and more people in, I'll do it. If it doesn't make sense right now I won't do it. That's how I'm doing it. I don't have an overall plan to grow headcount or reduce headcount." As we reported recently, Nortel is negotiating with contract electronics manufacturer Flextronics International Ltd. to further divest manufacturing operations in Canada, Brazil, Northern Ireland and France.

SiValley Recovering?

February 1, 2004...As we all know, Silicon Valley has been especially hard hit during the downturn, but according to Reuters what they're calling "the San Francisco area" which includes Silicon Valley, is recovering. According to the report, the San Francisco Bay area's economy is slowly on the mend and will add some jobs this year, reversing sharp declines in local payrolls during the high-technology slump. The report did note that the tech-heavy area's job growth will, however, continue to lag that of a more economically diverse southern California. According to analysts quoted in the report, "the adjacent world-famous high-tech hub of Silicon Valley will add about 17,000 new jobs to local payrolls this year, followed by 33,000 new jobs in 2005." These numbers came out of a forecast issued by the Association of Bay Area Governments which also noted that the region lost 62,000 jobs last year and shed 268,000 between the end of 2000 and the end of last year. The nine-county region's high-tech industry, which boasts scores of venture-capital-backed startups and major tech companies such as Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp., and eBay Inc., shed about one-third of its employees in recent years, said Paul Fassinger, research director at the ABAG. "You never get those particular jobs back, but you get other high-tech jobs to replace them," Fassinger said.

Chuck Mattera Joins II-VI

February 1, 2004...II-VI Incorporated of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA has appointed Dr. Vincent D. (Chuck) Mattera, Jr. as Vice President and General Manager of the company's Compound Semiconductor Group. Chuck will oversee the Company's eV PRODUCTS division, Wide Bandgap Materials Group and Advanced Materials Development Center, which will now be collectively referred to as the Company's Compound Semiconductor Group. Specifically, Chuck will be responsible for the Group's technical direction, product roadmap, manufacturing strategy and operational performance. "I am pleased and excited that Chuck Mattera has joined the II-VI team," said Dr. Carl Johnson, Chairman and CEO of II-VI Incorporated. Dr. Johnson added, "Chuck's extensive experience in the R&D and manufacturing of compound semiconductor materials and devices will help to focus the drive by our eV PRODUCTS division and Wide Bandgap Materials Group toward marketplace leadership." Dr. Mattera began his career as a member of the technical staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1984 and later became VP of Lucent Technologies' Optoelectronic Devices Organization. From 2001 until 2003, he held the position of Vice President and General Manager of the Optoelectronics Division at Agere Systems. Dr. Mattera received a Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry from the University of Rhode Island and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Brown University. FYI, note that the new boilerplate for II-VI underscores that their Wide Bandgap Materials (WBG) group "manufactures and markets single crystal silicon carbide substrates for use in the solid-state lighting, wireless infrastructure, RF electronics and power switching industries." Company news release.

Cree Adds Two New SiC Schottkys

February 1, 2004...Cree, Inc., of Durham, North Carolina USA, had expanded their family of SiC Schottky diode products by announcing two new Zero Recovery Schottky diodes to its power device product family: a 300 Volt diode, in both 10 Amp and 20 Amp versions, and a 1200 Volt diode, also in 10 Amp and 20 Amp versions. These devices are offered in industry standard TO-220 and TO-247 packages. Target applications for the 300V devices are for output rectifiers and power factor correction in power supplies, and for the 1200V devices as anti-parallel diodes for high frequency inverters and snubber diodes for high current IGBT inverters. The new SiC Schottky diodes will offer the same benefits as Cree's other SiC rectifiers, including faster switching speeds and reductions in circuit size and complexity, yielding a higher power density for compact power supplies in high performance applications. Dr. John Palmour, Cree’s Executive Vice President, Advanced Devices stated, "Our investment in R&D has enabled us to continue to expand our Schottky diode product offerings for applications requiring either higher or lower voltages than our 600 V products, as well as higher operating currents. We believe these devices will provide customers with a range of products to permit the implementation of smaller, more efficient power systems." Company news release

nLight Raises Another $12 Million in Third Round Financing

January 28, 2004...High power laser diode maker, nLight Photonics of Vancouver, Washington USA, has raised $12 million in its third round of financing. This funding was led by a consortium of previous investors including: Adams Capital Management; Menlo Ventures; Mohr, Davidow Ventures; and Oak Investment Partners. “nLight has developed solid traction in all the key market segments,” remarked Bill Ericson, General Partner at Mohr, Davidow Ventures. “The company has an expanding list of customers and revenues; there are great economic drivers to migrate to high-power diode lasers in many applications, so the addressable market for these products continues to grow.” Adding to this, Scott Keeney, President and CEO of nLight said, "This caps off a very successful year where sales have grown substantially driven by our industry leading performance. In addition to this funding, we have also won very important contracts from the Department of Defense that will allow us to continue to drive improvements in efficiency, reliability and cost.” Funded in 2000, nLight specializes in 630nm to 1600nm lasers and focus specifically on improved beam quality. Company news release

Osram Opto Showcases Cutting Edge LDs at Photonics West

January 28, 2004...Osram Opto Semiconductors GmbH of Regensburg, Germany, a leader in the creation and integration of HB-LEDs, is also making its presence known as a leading supplier of laser diodes. The company is at Photonics West this week in San Jose, California USA, showing off their most recent advancements in materials and design that have have been incorporated into what Osram Opto is calling "a new generation of single-quantum-well (SQW) laser diodes," which they feel exhibit outstanding electro-optical and thermal-mechanical properties. The SQW laser diodes are extremely robust and resistant to thermal fatigue, thus are favored in welding type applications. These cutting edge lasers (literally) include a lower laser threshold (up to 25% lower) and a 15% increase in operating efficiency, relative to conventional laser diodes. Among the products to be featured at the Osram Opto booth are their new high power laser bar in a new OEM package (SPL LG81), and new red laser diodes (SPL CG65) that have an optical output of 0.5 W and a wavelength of 650 nm. Produced in Osram Opto's new InGaAIP material system, these red LDs are targeted at an increasing number of medical applications, including photodynamic therapy for cancer treatment, ophthalmology, and dermatology. And for those keeping close track of Osram Opto, the wholly owned subsidiary of Osram, in FY 2003, the subsidiary had 3,285 employees who produced sales totaling EURO 392 million. Company news release

Spectrolab Goes To Mars

January 28, 2004...No, they're not building a plant off planet, yet, but Boeing's Spectrolab in Sylmar, California USA is helping the USA's NASA in its efforts to determine if Mars will be suitable as a planet worth tapping for its natural resources. It seems the high efficiency, triple junction solar cells that are powering the latest Mars exploration vehicles are manufactured by Spectrolab. On January 14th, Spectrolab announced their advanced, compound semi-based triple junction cells are providing the power to “Spirit,” the NASA-built spacecraft that landed on Mars on January 4 to explore the red planet. Spectrolab solar cells are also powering NASA’s “Opportunity” rover, which successfully landed on Mars January 24. “We’re proud to be part of the Spirit mission, in part because it continues Spectrolab’s already solid track record of producing power on interplanetary missions to Mars,” said David Lillington, president of Spectrolab. “Mars Global Surveyor, now entering its third year of conducting critical monitoring of Martian weather patterns, is powered by Spectrolab solar cells. And Spectrolab multi-junction solar cells generated solar power from beyond Mars orbit aboard the NEAR spacecraft, which reached the furthest distance from the sun than any solar array has traveled. “ For those unfamiliar with how triple junction solar cells function, excellent descriptions and details are included in the company news release.

Sanyo Helps Lead the DVD/HDD Market Charge From Red to Blue

January 28, 2004...Sanyo Electric Company is not only jumping on the DVD/HDD blue laser-based bandwagon, but they're helping lead the parade by leveraging their experience in red laser diodes. On January 19th, Sanyo outlined their plans to significantly raise their production output of DVD recordable optical pickups, a key device for the expanding the DVD recordable drive market. Sanyo's total market research calculations for DVD recordable drives, including IT and AV use, were 5.5 million units in fiscal year 2002, 30 million units in FY 2003 and 66 million units in FY 2004. According to Sanyo, in order to meet what they see as "brisk demand," the company intends to ramp their production capacity of DVD recordable optical pickups. In FY 2002 that production rate was 1.6 million units and moved rapidly to 15 million units, and projected output for FY 2004 will be 35 million units. Also in FY 2004, Sanyo plans to start production for AV use DVD recordable optical pickups, which they project will go to 250 million units for FY 2004. The company made a capital investment of 9 billion yen in FY 2003 and is increasing that to 13 billion yen in FY 2004 to finance the ramp. Most important of all to the advanced laser diode community, is Sanyo's note that they intend to continue and further develop their core competency of blue spectrum laser technology for the next generation of high storage capacity disks. Company news release

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Commentary & Perspective...

Shuji Wins

February 1, 2004...Score a big one for all inventive technologists the world over, who know precisely what needs to be accomplished and are willing to put in the years of hard work and dedication required to achieve their goals. Shuji Nakamura's court win of 20 billion yen (USA $188.7 million at that day's exchange rate) on Friday, January 30th in Japan, awarded to him by Judge Ryoichi Mimura, represents only a fraction of what the judge said was his rightful due. Nichia was judged to have earned royalties of approximately 120.8 billion yen and noted in this precedent-setting case, that Shuji contributed 50% to the production of that original blue spectrum device, and should therefore receive 60.4 billion yen. 20 billion yen was all he asked for. But like so many technology champions, he's never been in it for the money.

Judge Ryoichi Mimura's most notable quote, explaining his ruling, was that ''the invention was a totally rare example of a world-class invention achieved by the inventor's individual ability and unique ideas in a poor research environment at a small company.'' The blue spectrum work that altered the course of compound semi technology, and subsequently the lighting and solid state laser industries, was undertaken in what amounted to a technology void, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, in the remote Japanese city of Anan, in the Tokushima Prefecture. Nichia, which was established in classic style immediately following WW II to help bring jobs to the Prefecture, had been firmly rooted in old world technology before Shuji came to work for them in 1975. His vision and hard work, which involved creating his own MOCVD tool to get the results he wanted out of GaN-based material, has since totally changed the face of Nichia and allowed it to become the world leader in blue spectrum LEDs and laser diodes that it is today.

First off Shuji's homebrew tool came the Blue LED, which he made brighter and brighter and made it last longer and longer. Then came all the other hues in the blue spectrum... green, violet, ultraviolet, and ultimately, the white LED. Then came the industry's premier solid state blue laser. The technology world was first stunned by the accomplishment, then they all jumped on the Group III Nitride bandwagon, which has been rolling toward prominence ever since. Then the blue spectrum IP disputes began, and in 1999, Shuji left Nichia, under trying circumstances, and moved to the USA to become a professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he is now employed and continues his brilliant Nitride-based research.

News of Shuji's unprecedented court win, the largest in Japanese history and probably one of the largest in the world, even though a fraction of what was deemed to be his due, is being regarded as a huge moral victory for all technology innovators everywhere. Past, present, and future. When the news reached the USA early Friday, USA time, the emails and calls started coming in. This was one of those times when news made in Asia literally and figuratively woke up Americans. By close of business Friday, coast to coast USA time, the compound semi community who tuned in set out to spend the weekend toasting Shuji. So Superbowl Weekend had a double meaning for Americans this year, especially those in the Nakamura Lab at UCSB, and especially for those of us throughout the world who have become his longtime friends and colleagues. The feeling was an especially good cap to his friends in Asia, where almost everyone was completing the long Lunar New Year holidays. What a way to kick off a new year!

At the annual Strategies In Light (SIL) conference this week in California, Tuesday and Wednesday, Shuji's victory will likely be quantified and qualified and woven in and out of conversations, and the importance and ramifications of his contributions revealed in more detail. The bottomline always comes out the same. With Shuji guiding blue light breakthroughs by literally setting initial standards of growth of such brighter, longer life blue spectrum LEDs and LDs, the HB-LED business wouldn't be where it is today.

Where is the business today and where is it headed? Strategies Unlimited's Bob Steele and consultant Bob Walker will report details and numbers you can count on. They've just come off detailed interviews and assessments and hard calculations and it looks like HB-LEDs (all colors) will reach well above $5 billion in the 2008 timeframe. We'll be reporting exact numbers Thursday, after they're reported in person to the +300 attendees at SIL... the industry's truly premier gathering of the HB-LED industry. These two market prognosticators will share with everyone an update again at our Blue 2004 gathering in Taiwan in May. Bob Walker is serving as co-chair of the event and Bob Steele is our keynote speaker. While the Nitride blue spectrum devices are the stars of the show, we'll be covering all the HB-LED field and all the leading edge laser diodes, especially the blue lasers going into next gen HD-DVDs and hard drives.

Who are the leaders? Shuji put Nichia in the lead and Nichia, which remains a critically important company in the field, continues to lead the pack in blue spectrum LEDs and LDs. Cree is about the only other company to specialize specifically in blue, covering both as well. In the USA, along with Cree is Lumileds, which provides the best of the best in all colors of HB-LEDs, with Toyoda Gosei in Japan and Osram Opto in Germany in the same overall league. Although not all are doing LDs, they have all become masters of the blue spectrum. But the most impressive, overall buildup in HB-LEDs of all colors, including the blues, is in Taiwan. There are now over 250 MOCVD tools in place in Taiwan. Steve Cummins of Veeco will shed more light at SIL in his talk which closes the proceedings, detailing the huge contribution these reactors have made, and will continue to make, on the world market.

Talk at SIL, and at Blue 2004 will likely include the question "is this a precedent-setting decision for all technologists and inventors? In Japan, and possibly in other countries outside the USA, definitely! But would such a court award be reached in the USA for a technologist who was employed at the time? According to the first wave of legal friends who have checked in, like Steve Smith of Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione in Chicago, Illinois who not only specializes in IP issues, but himself was a noted compound semi industry technologist before becoming a lawyer, "the way the laws are structured here versus the structure there, an inventor would not win. Once, in the USA, when the inventor assigns the invention to the company and/or depending upon the employee agreement, there is not much of a chance for the inventor to ever win. They would have to prove a very heavy burden that they were taken advantage of. At the very least there has to be some sort of inequitable behavior on the part of the company. And that is very hard for an 'employee' to prove." So don't go getting your hopes up. That's probably why so many USA inventors tend to now form their own companies. That route is getting especially popular with university professors.

Did anyone really believe, back in the early 1990s, that the business would grow this large, so quickly? We had our hunches. I had the absolute privilege and honor to be the technology journalist that broke Shuji's blue spectrum story in the USA, which, as a freelancer at the time, I wrote for EE Times. I first met Shuji at an IEDM meet just after he'd gotten his initial blue LED working. It was his first formal presentation in the USA and I was the only journalist who attended his session. When he flashed the sample blue LED, thanks to all the briefing I'd had in the years proceeding from my USA, Russian, and European wide bandgap research friends, I truly understood what Shuji had accomplished... almost single-handedly, and against incredible hurdles. That's why what he has contributed to science and technology is considered by many, myself included, to be Nobel Prize-worthy. And that's why Shuji was our selection for our initial CompoundSemi Pioneer Award at the original Blue event in 2003.

In that IEDM audience, during Q&A, when most questions focused on the intricacies of growing GaN LEDs to make them bright enough in green, blue, violet, ultraviolet, and thus paving the way to white, I helped put the capper on the session by publicly asking Shuji if, since he'd reached such impressive brightness levels and lifetimes, could the elusive blue laser be far behind? He smiled, gave a short, but optimistic answer, and we began a trusting friendship. Ever since, he's taken part in every live blue spectrum-related event I've organized and I've tried to report any news relating to his IP and personal litigation struggles, his departure from Nichia, and his subsequent affiliation with UCSB, with clarity and accuracy.

Like Shuji, I am enamored with the blue laser. While I fully appreciate the blue spectrum LED sector, the blue laser is a story of the scientists' classic "Holy Grail." That story... call it the uncovering of the very Soul of a New Technology... is one that now has an incredible hook. How could any new technology be so important that it yields the lone inventive technologist a whopping $188 million? And do it the hard way... through the courts, and after 25 years of literally slaving away, to make that technology live up to expectations.

I'm not a technologist, but I sincerely appreciate their work. Enough to make their missions my missions. I've been prodded to write the blue spectrum story from my personal, eyewitness viewpoint. And I will. My "Life in the Laser Lane" has been memorable and exciting, but only because I've been able to know the technologists, like Shuji, themselves. They bring passion to their fields, so it's easy for me to be equally passionate. They've been patient and stayed focused, because all technologies take years, usually one's entire lifetime, to come to fruition. So it's easy for me to be patient and focused in rolling out "their story."

And in case you weren't personally part of the story, trust me. You're going to love this one. And if Shuji continues to triumph through the appeals process which Nichia has begun, which may well take this case to the Japanese Supreme Court, it's an even more compelling story because it has such a happy ending for the Master of the Blue Spectrum, Shuji Nakamura.

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