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Demand Spurs II-VI's SiC Substrate Output

The material producer is raising capacity and introducing extra product lines as the call from Japanese manufacturers and US defense customers for 100 mm wafers grows.

Crystal growth specialist II-VI Incorporated has seen a marked increase in demand for 100 mm SiC substrates, even as non-military revenues flagged in the final quarter of 2008.

This helped its compound semiconductors unit to the largest year-over-year sales increase of any division, in what chief executive officer Francis Kramer called “the most difficult quarter in many years".

“SiC wafer orders and shipments were up significantly," Kramer said. “The growth was due primarily to increased orders and shipments to Japanese manufacturers and US defense customers."

Repeat orders are now flowing in to II-VI s Pine Brook, New Jersey, based Wide Bandgap Group and 100 mm wafer volumes are set to increase further.

“To address the demand for 100 mm wafers, we continue conversion of existing growth stations to a design capable of larger diameter and substantially increased output," Kramer said.

He also says that manufacturing yields are improving, now approaching those of smaller diameter substrates, which will also help to meet the higher demand.

II-VI begun shipping high quality 3-inch diameter 4H conducting n-type wafers to several commercial power customers in the US and Japan in the December quarter.

This work was sponsored under a US Department of Defense contract that has improved yields, wafer flatness, defect densities and other mechanical properties.

The Wide Bandgap Group has just released 100 mm 6H semi-insulating substrates that Kramer says are garnering favorable feedback. A further expansion of the SiC product line is due in the current quarter when development of 100 mm 4H n-type substrates is completed.

Increased SiC sales even compensated for disappointing revenues elsewhere in the compound semiconductor division, at thermoelectric cooler subsidiary Marlow Industries. That revenue decline was attributed primarily to soft demand from the telecoms industry.

The compound semiconductor division s sales were up 23 percent to $14.5 million on the same period in 2007 but fell from $15.4 million sequentially.

II-VI s overall revenue was down to $74.3 million from $87.8 million sequentially, and its profits were down to $8.4 million from $17.5 million in the prior quarter.

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