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In brief: Toyoda Gosei, Si-Light, Beam Express

Toyoda rattles its patent sabre, VCSEL specialist Beam Express auctions off some of its manufacturing equipment, and a UK start-up wins seed funding to develop silicon-based light emitters.

Toyoda rattles sabre
Japanese GaN LED giant Toyoda Gosei is taking a leaf out of Nichia's book by warning companies about the patents that protect its light-emitting semiconductors.

The company, regarded as one of the "big five" LED chipmakers along with Cree, Philips Lumileds, Osram and Nichia, says that it has "recently received information that companies other than licensees have been manufacturing and selling white LEDs using silicate phosphors".

The phosphor detail is important. It relates to the new yellow materials developed recently by Toyoda and three European collaborators, and which form white emission when pumped with a blue LED.

Toyoda added that it has now signed cross-licensing agreements with both Philips Lumileds and Nichia, allowing the three parties to use each other's LED-related patents.

Surrey spin-out funded
Si-Light, a spin-out from the UK's University of Surrey, has received equity seed funding worth £150,000 ($284,000) to help develop silicon-based light emitters.

The company, which says that its technology is compatible with standard semiconductor manufacturing processes, will use cash from the UK's Cascade Fund to complete prototype designs of emitter-waveguide systems.

Si-Light's technology is based on the discovery by its founder Kevin Homewood, a professor at the University of Surrey, that silicon featuring so-called "dislocation loops" can emit light.

By exploiting this phenomenon, as well as using erbium ion implantation, Si-Light has created a silicon LED emitting at 1.5 µm. According to CEO Kevin Arthur, the company also plans to make 1.3 µm emitters and, eventually, a laser.

Arthur believes that the technology could find applications in fiber-to-the-home communication systems, as well as optical links between microprocessors for advanced computing.

Beam Express auctions kit
Beam Express, the Swiss start-up company that specializes in long-wavelength VCSEL technology, is auctioning off some of its manufacturing equipment.

VCSEL lifetime testing equipment and burn-in systems are among the items for sale until August 17.

A spin-off from the Swiss Institute of Technology, Beam Express raised $14.2 million as recently as April 2005.

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