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Aixtron cashes in with six-tool order from Genesis

Said to be the fastest-growing LED manufacturer in Taiwan, Genesis Photonics says that, following an order for six more Thomas Swan MOCVD reactors, it will target the LCD backlighting market.

Genesis Photonics, the Taiwanese LED epiwafer and chip manufacturer, has ordered six more MOCVD reactors from Aixtron subsidiary Thomas Swan.

Part of a long-term purchase agreement, the capacity expansion is evidence of a move by the company to target LCD backlighting applications for high-brightness LEDs.

Founded in 2002 and with more than 36,300 ft2 of floorspace, Genesis Photonics has been described as the fastest-growing LED manufacturer in Taiwan.

"With this boost for our MOCVD production, Genesis will be in an excellent position to become one of the top suppliers for the LCD backlighting market," said CEO David Chung.

Display backlighting applications in handheld computers and mobile devices already represent around half of the total market for HB-LEDs. But, while unit shipments are continuing to grow quickly, selling prices of the chips are dropping just as rapidly - effectively limiting the size of this application market to around $2 billion per year.

Meanwhile, applications of HB-LEDs in much larger LCD display backlight units, such as notebook and desktop PCs, and high-definition televisions, are expected to grow strongly from a small established base over the next five years.

Recent market reports from DisplaySearch and iSuppli both suggest that of the 450 million or so LCD panels expected to ship in 2009, around 2.5-3 percent, or 11-12 million, will feature backlight units based on HB-LEDs (see related article).

While the complex nature of the LCD business makes the size of the emerging market opportunity for LED chip manufacturers difficult to predict, hundreds of emitters are required to illuminate the large screens that are now becoming widespread.

That has prompted iSuppli to suggest a market worth around $1 billion for HB-LED chips used in large-scale LCD backlights alone by 2009, and further rapid growth if the technology is widely adopted after that time.

However, the actual dollar value of this emerging market for HB-LEDs may be significantly lower if there is a rapid decrease in the average selling prices of the packaged chip die, as has been witnessed with the lower-brightness emitters that are used in mobile backlight applications.

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