The partnership will center on the use of Intematix' White Lightning Y460(TM) and Y450(TM) patent-backed phosphor materials. Crucially, these materials do not infringe on patents owned by other LED manufacturers.
Already in 2005 Intematix has signed licensing agreements with another Taiwanese company, Advanced Optoelectronic Technology, Inc., as well as two Korean companies, LumiMicro (see news story) and Itswell.
Unity Opto is a listed company in Taiwan (ticker 2499.TW) and manufactures LEDs for a range of applications in power LEDs, backlighting, camera flashes, and emerging architectural and general lighting solutions.
Commenting on the new agreement, Mr. Wu, Chief Executive Officer of Unity Opto, said "Unity Opto intends to use the Intematix patent-backed phosphor in core and emerging designs to produce differentiated and very competitive products. We have focused on serving a demanding global customer base where differentiation through performance is critical. Our focus on delivering this level of value at extremely attractive prices led us to a partnership with Intematix."
Intematix moves to Fremont
All the phosphors supplied by Intematix are currently manufactured in house, which has required the company to move to larger facilities in Fremont, California. The company says that the capacity increase will provide the ability to support the solid-state lighting industry as LED production ramps into millions of devices per day.
The move will also enable Intematix to boost its R&D workload and add new phosphors to its existing portfolio, using its Discovery Engines. "We not only manufacture alternatives for YAG phosphor for white LED production, but we also have a whole family of phosphors that can be tuned to match our customers' manufacturing requirements," says Nik Bahram, VP of marketing & sales.
Phosphors can be rapidly customized for unique thermal conditions, manufacturing processes, or for particular choices of different resins or LED chips at various wavelengths. "Tuning can be carried out in a matter of weeks," says Bahram. The optimization could be driven by specific cost or performance requirements, for example the need to achieve certain luminous flux and color rendering levels.
Bahram says that Unity Opto produces a range of chips, so they required both Y450 and Y460 phosphors (the number indicates the principal absorption wavelength of the material). The company also wanted custom-designed phosphors that are optimized to match up with the LED chips in different bins.
One key selling point of the Intematix phosphors is that they avoid certain patents covering the use of other phosphor materials, such as YAG, in white LED manufacturing. Nichia, Osram Opto Semiconductors and Cree all own white LED patents that have been licensed to other manufacturers (see Patents: Blue and white LEDs).
"Our customers have assessed our patent position and have chosen accordingly," says Bahram. "Our patents cover numerous phosphor compositions and numerous applications of those compositions - we think they're novel and very different from other approaches." Nichia, for example, has patented the application of YAG, but YAG itself is not a patented composition.
Bahram adds that Intematix's patents are international and have been filed around the world, and that the company has customers on 4 continents - Asia, Europe, Australia and the US – in addition to those already announced.
Not surprisingly, Intematix thinks its technology will further improve the market prospects for white LEDs. "A true merchant supply of phosphors will transform the solid-state lighting industry to a point where innovation is front and center," says Bahram.