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JM PureGuard Hydrogen Purifiers Popular for LEDs

Sales increased dramatically for Johnson Matthey’s advanced PureGuard hydrogen purifiers in 2010, thanks largely to continuing rapid growth of LED production in Taiwan and China.


Johnson Matthey, a designer and manufacturer of hydrogen purifiers, has shipped its purifiers to new and expanding fabs for sensitive semiconductor applications, including MOCVD processes for LED production, crystal growth and PV deposition processes.


Johnson Matthey's state-of-the-art PSH Series bulk hydrogen purifiers are capable of providing 99.9999999% pure hydrogen for wafer fabrication. JM says the HP Series purifier product line is the most popular and provides the purest hydrogen.


Stuart Bestrom, Sales Manager for Johnson Matthey’s Gas Purification Technology (GPT) group, said the company is committed to supporting the growth of the global electronics industry, especially in Asia, the area of greatest expansion for LED production.


Bestrom said, in China for example, Johnson Matthey has supplied purifiers to two major high-tech manufacturers, one focusing on the development and large-scale production of ultra-high brightness red, orange and yellow LED epitaxy and chips, light communication components and other optoelectronic devices.


He said another large Chinese customer purchased several Johnson Matthey Model PSH-60 purifiers capable of hydrogen flows of 60 Nm3/hr. This manufacturer of full colour LEDs designs, develops, makes and distributes full-colour ultra-high brightness LEDs, epitaxial wafers, photo-diode detectors and compound solar cells with an annual throughput of 550,000 epi-wafers and 16B LEDs.


Johnson Matthey is seeing similar success in Taiwan, Bestrom noted. Among the major customers who have purchased several Model PSH-60 purifiers is a leading maker of pure-play, high power InGaN LED wafers and chips, and the only one in Taiwan offering a full spectrum of products including high power InGaN blue, green and near-UV LEDs.


 Another is using Johnson Matthey purifiers to supply ultrapure hydrogen to its growing number of high throughput MOCVD tools.  This leading Asian manufacturer recently added 34 new MOCVD tools


China is strengthening its position as a major global manufacturer of LEDs, according to Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and primary facilitator of trade with China companies. In recent months several leading international suppliers have invested in the construction of factories in the Pearl, Yangtze and Minjiang River delta regions, Bohai Rim Economic Region, and even in some parts of Middle Western China.


With global demand for LEDs outpacing yield, said Global Sources, manufacturers are looking to expand production capacity to curtail a looming deficit in supply. The growing popularity of LED-backlit LCD TVs is expected to exacerbate the shortage. Each LCD panel for TVs generally requires between 300 and 500 LEDs with a uniform level of brightness. Laptops require only about 50.


“China will become important to the global LED industry this year,” said Zheng Haowen, director of the National High-Tech Enterprise Development LED Professional Committee. “The total foreign investment for the sector is projected to exceed 60 billion Yuan ($8.8 billion), a phenomenal increase from about 10 billion Yuan ($1.5 billion) in 2009.


Bestrom said that in 2010, China reportedly added more than 1200 MOCVD systems, a number that reflects the “extraordinary prosperity” of the country’s LED industry. The main motives encouraging such LED growth, he continued, are the subsidy policies of the Chinese government and the huge prospects for the LED market.


 In Taiwan, total LED production value reached $5.43 billion last year according to the country’s Photonics Industry & Technology Development Association (PIDA). PIDA said with the continued expansion of the LED application market, the annual growth rate is predicted to be 40 % this year and also 40 %t in 2012, reaching $11.3 billion.


 Last year, reported PIDA, Taiwan was the number-one-ranked country in the world in terms of the production output of LED wafers and chips, with sales of just below $2 billion. InGaN LEDs comprise 52 % of the production value; the market for packaged LEDs was slightly less than $3 billion. The LED lighting segment in Taiwan is expected to grow rapidly in the next two years.


According to Bestrom, Johnson Matthey’s palladium membrane technology is preferred by PV and semiconductor fabs for use with the compressed hydrogen supply common in Asia and particularly in China. “Compressed gas source contains higher levels of impurities and varying quality, and our palladium membrane technology offers the best capability to remove all oxygen and carbon impurities to parts-per-billion levels, with no effect from input impurities. These impurities must be consistently removed to assure the brightest LED’s. Our success in 2010 reflects not only the acceptance of our leading-edge technology, but also our ability to be able to meet the heavy demand for purifiers in LED wafer and chip facilities.”
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