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Kopin gets GaN wafers production-qualified

Already a key supplier of GaAs-based HBT epiwafers for mobile handset applications, Kopin says that its GaN HEMTs have now been qualified for production manufacturing.

Kopin, the epiwafer supplier that has a particularly close relationship with RFIC manufacturer Skyworks Solutions, says that its new GaN transistor technology is ready for volume production.

The Taunton, MA, firm, which is already in the process of a major production scale-up for MOCVD-grown GaAs and GaAsInN HBT epiwafers, has been working on GaN HEMT development since 2004.

Now, its GaN HEMT epiwafers have been qualified by what Kopin describes as "a leader in GaN-enabled base station products".

A number of III-V chip manufacturers, including RF Micro Devices, Cree, Freescale, Fujistu and Nitronex to name just a few, have been developing GaN-based transistors for broadband wireless infrastructure applications over the past few years.

RF Micro Devices recently announced its first commercial supply deal for GaN products with a military customer, while Fujitsu now plans to set up a separate business venture focused on power amplifier products including GaN components for WiMAX.

While Skyworks does manufacture some AlGaAs HBT-based products for infrastructure applications, it is yet to reveal publicly any plans that involve GaN semiconductors.

Like most other developers in the sector, Kopin has focused on using SiC substrates as the base material for the GaN devices. However, the company adds that it has also looked into other substrate options, including sapphire.

• Kopin reported a sequential drop in sales of HBT epiwafers in its most recent trading quarter, which ended on December 30, 2006.

At $9 million, epiwafer sales were down slightly from the previous quarter, which Kopin CEO John Fan attributed to "an inventory correction in the market".

Fan remains confident about prospects for 2007, however: "We begin the new year with a strong tailwind of demand as our wireless circuit partners shift to our newest generation of InGaP HBT structures for advanced wireless handsets."

Aixtron has already delivered three of its latest generation of MOCVD production systems to Kopin s Taunton, MA, facility for a production scale-up this year.

For the full fiscal 2006 period, revenue from HBT products was $43.9 million, up slightly on the 2005 figure of $42.7 million.

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