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Commentary: David Barnes of DisplaySearch Forecasts New "Paths to Enlightenment"
 
... Veteran market researcher David Barnes of Display Search spoke recently at our annual CS Vision executive business forum in Austin, Texas USA (the city in which DisplaySearch is based). As David noted, "Illumination is one of the key attributes of compound semiconductors, one that offers value to makers of...
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Win Semiconductors to Venture into Solar Cell Market with New Aixtron Reactor
CompoundSemi News Staff

July 11, 2007...Aixtron reports that Win Semiconductors Corporation of Taiwan, a developer and manufacturer of microwave integrated circuits, will delve into the solar cell manufacturing with the purchase of an Aixtron reactor. Aixtron says that Win’s new AIX 2600G3 IC epitaxy reactor will be used to produce triple junction solar cells on germanium wafers for terrestrial solar cells.

A spokesperson of Win Semiconductors, commented, “Our decision for the Aixtron equipment was confirmed by the fact that the major players in the solar cell epitaxy market in Europe are successfully using the Aixtron MOCVD systems. We are convinced of this track record of Aixtron tools in solar cell manufacture in Europe and are confident that the new system will clear the way for our success in the solar cell market.” Aixtron News Release

Strategy Analytics: GaN Laser Diode Market Will Double from 2006 Through 2011
CompoundSemi News Staff

July 11, 2007...Strategy Analytics predicts that the market for gallium nitride (GaN) laser diodes will basically double in size from 2006 through 2011. SA expects total growth in the GaN laser diode market sector will be 103 percent over the period. SA says that the driving force behind the growth will primarily come from consumer-based optical data storage market including GaN laser diodes used in gaming, PCs, and home theaters. By 2011, SA says that there will be a significant increase in demand for Blu-ray and HD-DVD players. Unlike the gaming consoles which use low power GaN laser diode, Blu-ray and HD-DVD applications require higher-power laser diodes.

Asif Anwar, Director of the GaAs service noted that despite early setbacks in manufacturing yields and lack of competition, “Continuing advances in substrates and growth technology removed many of the IP issues, so this is allowing traditionally strong manufacturers of consumer laser diodes to enter the market in order to drive volume and lower costs.”

“The “format war” between Blu-ray and HD-DVD in the home is still there to be won. It will be dictated by the price of players/recorders and the choice of available titles,” notes Stephen Entwistle, VP of the Strategy Analytics Strategic Technologies Practice. “Since both formats essentially use the same technology, the GaN laser diode manufacturers will be the winners regardless of which technology loses the format war.” Company News Release

Anadigics Breaks Ground on GaAs Wafer Fab in China
CompoundSemi News Staff

July 11, 2007...Anadigics broke ground for its new GaAs wafer fabrication facility in Kunshan ‘s New and Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone (KSND). Party secretary of Kunshan Mr. Guohua Zhang, mayor of Kunshan Mr. Aiguo Guan and vice mayor Feng-Quan Zhu, and several government officials were in attendance at the ceremony that was part of a city-wide celebration in the city of Kunshan in the Jiangsu Province in China. Anadigics’ President and CEO, Dr. Bami Bastani, Executive Vice President and CTO, Dr. Charles Huang, Vice President of Worldwide Human Resources John Warren, and other members of Anadigics’ workforce were also on-hand at the ground breaking ceremony.

Andigics anticipates growth in the wireless and wireline markets beyond the capacity of the company’s primary wafer fabrication in Warren, New Jersey USA. The company and KSND plan to complete construction of the new facility in the first half of 2008, and they hope to begin operation at the plant in the second half of the year.

Vice Mayor Feng-Quan Zhu of Kunshan said, “The addition of the Commercial six-inch GaAs wafer fab to the development zone not only shows our ever growing interest of the semiconductor industry but marks a historical first for the city of Kunshan and the country of China.” Company News Release

Ascent Solar Gets $20 Million from Warrant Conversion; Plans 1.5 MW Pilot Production Start by Year's End
CompoundSemi News Staff

July 9, 2007...Ascent Solar, a developer of thin-film CIGS photovoltaic modules, reported that it received $20 million as a result of the conversion of Class A public warrants. The company also said it has achieved “significant pre-manufacturing milestones.” “The additional capital received as a result of the Class A public warrant conversion and our partnership with Norsk Hydro have enabled us to achieve significant milestones ahead of plan. We are currently conducting pre-manufacturing testing on our roll-to-roll rapid prototyping tools in order to baseline the PV manufacturing processes. This is in preparation for the commencement of manufacturing operations on the 1.5 megawatt (MW) pilot production plant scheduled for completion by year end,” Ascent Solar President and CEO Matthew Foster stated. “The additional capital received will support construction of the first of four 25 MW scale production lines, the first of which is planned for completion in 2009. Our pathway to the market with large volume production has been greatly enhanced and will be strengthened further once we complete qualification of our pilot production plant.”

“By processing approximately one hundred feet each week in our roll-to-roll rapid prototyping tools, we have systematically proven out the entire end-to-end manufacturing deposition process. We believe that we can achieve repeatable and controllable processes that yield excellent uniformity,” Dr. Prem Nath, Senior VP of Manufacturing, said. “We now intend to focus on deposition process optimization and the remaining module patterning and encapsulation areas as we prepare for the staged delivery of our pilot plant production tools beginning in September 2007.” Company News Release

Global Solar Energy's Thin Foldable CIGS Solar Panels Achieve Military Certification
CompoundSemi News Staff

July 9, 2007...Global Solar Energy of Tucson, Arizona USA, a maker of thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) solar cells, received MIL STD-810E certification from the US military. MIL STD-810E certification requires continued operation after being under water, under vibration, after being stored at extreme high or extreme low temperatures, during a fast temperature change, at high altitude, after being dropped, and while exposed to sand and dust.

“We anticipated that our P3 products would pass the tests; Global Solar Energy has been manufacturing quality solar products for several years, now we have the certification to confirm it," said Michael Gering, President of Global Solar. “To my knowledge no other flexible solar product has this military certification," added Mr. Gering. Company News Release

Norstel and ETRI/AIST to Collaborate on SiC Growth Methods
CompoundSemi News Staff

July 9, 2007...Norstel AB of Norrköping, Sweden, and the Energy Technology Research Institute (ETRI), part of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) of Tsukuba, Japan, have signed a collaboration agreement for the development of silicon carbide (SiC) material manufacturing methods for semiconductor applications. In work that began in 1995, Norstel has developed High Temperature Chemical Vapor Deposition (HTCVD), its own method for growing SiC single crystal ingots. Norstel indicated that it is currently ramping production at its new facility in Sweden. The HTCVD method, which is under the supervision of Dr. Alexandre Ellison, utilizes controlled purity gases in the growth process and it has produced very high purity wafers for advanced semiconductor processing.

AIST has developed SiC growth techniques based on the sublimation method (where silicon carbide is transported from a solid source to a seed crystal) under the supervision of Dr. Shin-ichi Nishizawa during the past 7 years. AIST achieved impressive results on material quality of up to 4” diameter. In April 2007, Dr. Nishizawa joined ETRI of AIST. Norstel said that the primary purpose of the collaboration will be to optimize SiC crystal growth quality and manufacturability. Norstel News Release

Strategy Analytics Says CS Companies Need to be Flexible to Succeed
CompoundSemi News Staff

July 9, 2007...Strategy Analytics (SA) released its regular overview of the compound semiconductor industry news including microelectronics and optoelectronics materials and equipment makers. SA’s latest report explains that much of the industry is concerned with methods and strategies for manufacturing compound semiconductor products. SA’s explains that in order to manufacture with a strategy that optimizes the fab utilization, and profitability, while giving the customers what they want, companies have chosen either outsourcing or internal manufacturing strategies. Either way, intellectual property issues have kept patent lawyers busy. Some have chosen the route of cross-licensing such as the Nichia-Stanley electric deal. Others such as Philips (Royal Philips Electronics) have chosen to acquire all of the companies and technology to produce the most advanced products in a vertically integrated arrangement.

“When it comes to manufacturing, no single strategy will prevail. Companies need to develop a methodical approach that takes account of fab utilization, customer base and profitability among other factors, when considering the question of outsourcing vs. internal investment," commented Asif Anwar, GaAs service Director. “It is important to recognize and maintain your existing strengths while maintaining the flexibility to consider external solutions.”

Stephen Entwistle, VP of the Strategic Technologies Practice, added, “IP is another area where it is crucial to know your strengths and weaknesses so that partnerships are two-way relationships.” SA asserts that flexibility will be the key to success in the industry. Strategy Analytics News Release

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Commentary & Perspective...

David Barnes of DisplaySearch Forecasts New "Paths to Enlightenment"

July 11, 2007...Veteran market researcher David Barnes of Display Search spoke recently at our annual CS Vision executive business forum in Austin, Texas USA (the city in which DisplaySearch is based). As David noted, "Illumination is one of the key attributes of compound semiconductors, one that offers value to makers of flat panel displays." In his presentation, titled "Paths to Enlightenment" David focused on market dynamics in the flat-panel display industry and suggested ways that compound semi companies, especially those who specialize in LEDs, might benefit. To follow is a post-conference digest by David of his talk.

Many people began to notice the flat-panel display (FPD) industry when flat TV sets appeared in stores several years ago as alternatives to fat (cathode-ray tube) TV sets. By that time, most of the industry's growth had occurred. The display area delivered for all flat panel applications in 2007 will be 2.24 times greater than the area delivered in 2005. Two years from now, in 2009, DisplaySearch expects 1.50 times more display area will be sold. The display-area price declines required to stimulate consumer demand are slowing revenue growth further. FPD industry revenues in 2007 will be 1.33 times greater than in 2005 but revenues in 2009 may be only 1.15 times 2007 sales. Cost is therefore the name of the game for FPD producers and any technology that adds cost will be a difficult sell.

People also read news reports and blogs telling of new display technologies that will challenge established ones, "soon." One such company, iFire, a subsidiary of the Westaim Corporation, hopes to soon offer flat-panel TV's utilizing its thick dielectric electroluminescent (TDEL) display technology. The reality is that thin-film transistor liquid-crystal (TFT LCD) technology will deliver 66% of all display area this year, including conventional cathode-ray tube (CRT) displays. The total market share was 23% in 2003 and it will be 80% in 2010. On a dollar basis, the share of TFT LCD exceeds 80% already. TFT LCD technology is becoming more dominant, not less so. Until two months ago, the Internet was awash with conjecture that SED, a variant of field-emission display technology from Canon and Toshiba, would replace LCD TV sets quickly. Then, like Philips, Motorola and Candescent before it, Canon announced the project was suspended. More recently, Sony admitted that it is curtailing efforts in projection TV and MicroDisplay announced that it is exiting the projection engine business. Sony will begin marketing the first organic-LED (OLED) TV this year but it is a 13-inch set available in limited quantity. The Sony fab for this OLED uses less glass in a year than a modern TFT LCD line processes in an hour and the fab makes other products, primarily. OLED may eventually go into mass-market TV sets, but not this decade.

Direct-view TFT LCD is the technology of choice for PC and TV displays. Sales of rear-projection TV are falling globally. The US consumer remains the only buyer and sales are flat to down even here. The two opportunities for compound semiconductor based LEDs are therefore backlights for TFT LCDs and lamps for micro-projectors. The backlight opportunity is huge. The illumination requirement tracks the display area delivered at the least. Generally, consumers want larger TV displays to be brighter than smaller ones and certainly brighter than PC monitors. In addition, LEDs can generate more color space than fluorescent lamps can. TFT LCD makers want to take advantage of that and offer consumers deeper colors than PDP (plasma) or CRT sets can deliver. Temporal modulation is the strength of LEDs, which can flash on and off quickly to improve human perception of smooth motion between video data frames. Some specialty manufacturers are combining temporal modulation of with spatial modulation in arrays of LED sources but this is an expensive proposition. Edge lighting by red-green-blue LEDs is a preferred way to illuminate TFT LCDs in mass-market products. Differential aging and ambient light effects are easy to compensate for when there are a few edge sources but difficult to manage when there are a hundred or more lamps in a backlight array. The price of backlight assemblies for LCD TV modules has been declining more than 30% a year: about the same rate as module prices themselves. Only edge light techniques seem capable of continuing this trend.

The second application of compound semiconductors is less certain. It seems likely that projection systems will become small and cost-effective enough to fit into a mobile phone but demand for such capability is less certain. In addition, LED technology faces competition from low-power laser technology in this application. Young consumers may be the early adopters of handheld projectors. If so, this is a space to watch. LED suppliers seeking business in backlights can key off large electronics companies and panel makers like Samsung or Sharp. Suppliers seeking opportunities in handheld projectors may want to key off other firms such as Motorola or Nokia and their panel suppliers like TPO.

TFT LCD producers will sell more than $80 billion worth of displays this year and about 25% of that amount will go to backlight integrators. DisplaySearch hopes you will find a path to enlightenment. Visit the firm on www.displaysearch.com to learn more about this brilliant idea.

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