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Retrospective: 2000-2005

Compound Semiconductor magazine is 10 years old. And, just like most of the rest of the industry, it has been through a few ups and downs during that time. Here, we take a look back at some of the highlights - and lowlights - that have shaped the industry over the past decade.
2000
Fab-ulous

February • TriQuint acquires a state-of-the-art facility in Richardson, TX.



May • TriQuint completes Hillsboro, OR, GaAs fab expansion.



July • SDL and JDSU set up a merger worth $41 billion • UK prime minister Tony Blair opens Filtronic s $35 million GaAs fab.

September • Hitachi spins out Opnext to produce chips for fiber optics.

November • Agilent plans 6-inch GaAs fab to make E-mode PHEMTs • Zhores Alferov and Herbert Kroemer share one half of the Nobel Prize for Physics for their developments in semiconductor heterostructures (IC inventor Jack Kilby scoops the other half) • Taiwanese GaAs foundries proliferate as chip demand skyrockets • Sony showcases prototype DVD player based on a blue laser.

December • Nortel Networks reassures investors over its predicted revenue, despite worries about the wider telecoms market •Lucent s chip-manufacturing spin-off Agere Systems files for an IPO.

2001
Wall Street blues

January • GaAs IC companies suffer a "Wall Street crash" amid overcapacity fears • Toyoda Gosei mass-produces 380 nm GaN LEDs • WIN Semiconductor makes Taiwan s first 6-inch GaAs MMIC wafer.



February • JDSU sells its 980 nm laser facility in Zurich for $2.5 billion in Nortel stock. Shortly afterwards, Nortel shocks the market, saying that its 2001 revenue will be only half of that predicted. Nortel s share price tanks, along with JDSU s proceeds from the Zurich plant sale • Almost immediately after merging with SDL, JDSU warns that there is a "lower level of near-term visibility" in the fiber-optic sector. However, the company assures worried investors thus: "We do not believe this is a long-term trend." • Nitronex Corporation makes a GaN HEMT on a 4-inch silicon substrate.

April • Analyst firm CIBC says that it now expects the first downturn in the history of the GaAs industry • Leading GaAs manufacturers, including RFMD and Vitesse, issue profit warnings • The 2000 compound semiconductor component market is valued at $18 billion - more than double the 1998 figure.

May • CyOptics builds an InP fab in Yokneam, Israel.

June • TRW creates 4-inch InP foundry Velocium.

July • Analysts describe Nortel s financial report as "below the worst-case scenario" • Nokia issues profit a warning, Anadigics lays off 10% of its workforce and RFMD shares slide alarmingly • In a rare spot of good news, Nichia begins making 30 mW blue lasers in volume • Lumileds launches high-power Luxeon LED emitters.

August • Corning closes its Lasertron facility before it is even opened officially • Shuji Nakamura s book slams Nichia s corporate culture and he files a lawsuit against his former employer.

September • Osram buys Infineon s 49% share in Osram OS for $509 million, and lays the foundation of the company s new 40,000 m2 fab in Regensburg • JDSU reports the largest corporate loss in history, including a $44.8 billion write-down on its balance sheet.




October • As the shock of 9/11 attacks on the US reverberates, Motorola and IQE show off 12-inch GaAs-on-silicon technology • Veeco acquires MBE equipment vendor Applied Epi.

November • Litton Airtron shuts down its GaAs substrate operation, disposes of 3 tons of stockpiled gallium and sells its SiC substrate business to II-VI.

December • Nortel auctions huge amounts of wafer fab equipment.


2002
Hangover period

Jan/Feb • Alpha and Conexant merge their wireless activities and name the new company Skyworks Solutions • Bookham buys Marconi s optical components business, including the Caswell, UK, GaAs fab • Uniroyal TC s financial crisis is revealed in its annual report - the company soon files for bankruptcy.



March • TriQuint completes switch to 6-inch GaAs manufacturing.

April • Sony launches Blu-ray disc data storage technology • Falling price of blue LEDs prompts a profit warning from Cree.

May • RHK s chief analyst John Ryan tells OFC delegates: "In 1999 and 2000 everyone spent money like drunken sailors. Now we re in the hangover period."

June • TriQuint buys Infineon s GaAs business.

July • A USCB/IQE team reports a 450 GHz InP DHBT • Alcatel Optronics cuts workforce by 25%.

September • Nichia and Toyoda Gosei settle their long-standing differences • Agere and ADC bail out of the increasingly gloomy-looking fiber business • Filtronic closes its Santa Barbara GaAs fab.

October • Toshiba and NEC launch a next-generation DVD format to rival Sony s Blu-ray • Phone sales pick up thanks to introduction of color screens, driving both GaAs IC and LED growth • The Economist blames the telecoms bubble on WorldCom chief executive Bernie Ebbers talking up Internet traffic growth figures. In July 2005, Ebbers is sentenced to 25 years in jail.

November • Bookham snaps up Nortel s optical components business • Nakamura loses the first round of his patent battle with former employer Nichia.

December • TriQuint buys Agere s optoelectronics business for $40 million cash • Cree s LED sales bounce back on demand from camera phones • RFMD converts to 6-inch GaAs fab • Fujitsu makes a 562 GHz HBT.

2003
Mergers & closures

January/February • Nichia and Sony ally on 405 nm lasers • InN s bandgap turns out to be 0.7 eV, not 2.0 eV as previously thought.



March • Dow Corning buys Sterling from Uniroyal • The HB-LED market surges 50% on mobile phone demand.

April • Sony unveils a commercial Blu-ray disc recorder • ATMI sells its GaAs epiwafer business to Sumitomo Chemical.

May • Cree bags a $100 million LED purchase order from Sumitomo Corporation • Bookham closes its 3-inch InP fab in Ottawa and ships it to Caswell.

June • Avanex buys the Alcatel and Corning optoelectronics units.

July • Former Cree CEO Eric Hunter and his wife sue the company for $3 billion, later dropping the claim.

August • Agilent closes its UK optoelectronics fab.

September • Vitesse closes its 6-inch GaAs fab - the industry s first • RFMD ships its 250 millionth PA module.

October • Nichia sues Taiwan-based Epistar over blue LEDs • Oxford Instruments buys Thermo VG s MBE business.

November • Raytheon sells its commercial GaAs unit to silicon giant Fairchild Semiconductor • A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) team makes an InP/InGaAs HBT with an ft of 504 GHz • MOCVD pioneer Emcore sells its TurboDisc business to Veeco.

December • Ommic becomes the first European InP foundry.

2004
LED boom time

January • Fujitsu Quantum Devices and Sumitomo Electric Industries Electronic Devices merge to form Eudyna Devices • Analysts say 500 million phones sold in 2003 • Audi s A8 is the first production vehicle to feature LED-based forward lights.



March • Shuji Nakamura wins $189 million compensation from Nichia in a Tokyo court.

May • ATMI sells its GaN unit to Cree.

July • Bookham exits the GaAs MMIC business pioneered at its Caswell fab.



August • Taiwanese foundry Procomp is at the center of a financial scandal • Aixtron seals its biggest-ever sale in an MOCVD supply deal with Lumileds • Motorola spins off Freescale as a separate venture.

September • Nichia and Optotech collaborate on
GaN LEDs.

December • Taiwan GaAs foundries WIN Semiconductor and GCTC merge.

2005
Bouncing back

January • Finisar and Infineon wrangle over the value of the German company s fiber-optic division • The Nichia versus Nakamura case is finally settled, with the UCSB professor receiving "just" $8 million from a delighted Nichia.



April • DARPA s wide-bandgap project sees $100 million invested in GaN.

May • TriQuint sells its InP optoelectronics business to CyOptics • UIUC researchers break another record with a 600 GHz InP-based HBT.

July • Japanese company Yokogawa plans to spend $230 million building a GaAs fab to manufacture optoelectronic switches.

August • Agilent sells its semiconductor division to a private equity group for $2.66 billion in cash, with Philips Lighting buying out Agilent s stake in Lumileds for $950 million • Taiwan-based Epistar and United Epitaxy Company merge, forming an LED manufacturing powerhouse.



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