Advanced substrate demand to increase for gallium-nitride devices

The availability of high-quality sapphire and silicon-carbide substrates has enabled the rapid growth of the gallium-nitride device (mainly high-brightness LED) market to $4.6 billion in 2008.

But according to a new report from Strategies Unlimited (Mountain View, CA), increasing demand for blue-violet laser diodes, UV LEDs, and other devices will provide significant growth of advanced substrates such as gallium nitride and aluminum nitride.

The report, entitled Substrates for GaN-Based Devices: Performance Comparisons and Market Assessment 2009, says that these advanced substrates will be needed to provide the lattice matching and thermal characteristics necessary to produce high-performance devices at high yields.

At the same time, demand for higher device manufacturing throughput and lower costs will push sapphire and silicon-carbide (SiC) diameters from two inches to three and four inches, and ultimately to six inches.

A number of companies are in a position to provide such substrates as the market expands. These include larger established companies such as Sumitomo Electric, Cree, and Samsung Corning, as well as smaller technology-focused startups such as Crystal IS, Kyma, and TopGaN. The effort to develop advanced substrates, as well as to improve conventional substrate properties, is worldwide in scope and includes 80 companies and 65 universities and research centers.

Based on the forecast demand for high-brightness LEDs, blue-violet laser diodes, and high-power, high-frequency electronic devices, the worldwide merchant market (excluding captive producers such as Cree) for substrates for gallium nitride devices is forecast to grow from $280 million in 2008 to $470 million in 2013, says the report. Advanced substrates such as gallium nitride and aluminum nitride are predicted to comprise more than 40% of the market in 2013.

--Posted by Gail Overton for Laser Focus World magazine

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