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Applied Materials Receives DoE Funding For GaN MOCVD System

The DoE has given £2.4 million in funding to Applied Materials so it can advance a GaN MOCVD system to make the manufacture of LEDs cheaper and more efficient.

Applied Materials has been awarded $3.9 million (£2.4 million) by the US Department of Energy (DoE) to develop manufacturing equipment and processes to reduce the costs associated with light emitting diode (LED) manufacturing.

The DoE announced $37.8 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund 17 high-efficiency solid-state lighting projects, which saw beneficiaries including Philips Lumileds, Veeco Instruments and Cree.

Applied Materials is set to use the money to advance epi tools for Gallium Nitride (GaN) LED devices. An advanced multichamber hybrid epitaxial growth system for LED manufacturers will be developed, which has the potential to improve binning yield, increase the efficiency of LEDs and decrease operating costs.

The system will also be used for metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) and builds on the Applied Materials Centura platform which is used to grow high-quality, low-cost epitaxial wafers for silicon-based integrated circuits.

Applied Materials Centura MOCVD platform extends the capability of tungsten technology to 45 nanometre logic and 55 nanometre memory applications.

Features include "excellent" wafer handling for repeatable, precise wafer replacement during deposition.

Commenting on the grant, the company said the funding, which is the first US government grant in lighting it has received, shows how the DoE understands that in order to see a broad adoption of LEDs, manufacturing efficiency has to be improved.

Efficiency is improved, in part, because the Centura platform enables low contact resistance (Rc) and tight Rc distribution. Low Rc makes LEDs efficient as more current can flow through a device during a given period, enabling it to shine brighter. With more energy being utilised for light, less is wasted on heat. A high loss of heat reduces the efficiency of electronic devices, making the expense/performance ratio less favourable.

GaN is commonly used in LEDs and has low sensitivity to ionising radiation, a property it shares with other group III nitrides. Transistors made from GaN can operate at higher voltages and temperatures.

A recent IMS Research report stated that there is predicted to be a shortage in 2010 of 12-14 billion in-spec (binned) die, with this shortage expected to progress into 2013.

Barry Young, IMS Research senior consultant and managing director of the Organic LED Association, explained: "Demand for HB LEDs is forecast to grow by 61 per cent in 2010 and supply is unlikely to keep up, creating an opportunity for new manufacturers and new tool makers."

This supply gap could be the perfect opportunity for Applied Materials to take the DoE funding and improve the binning yield of LEDs through its MOCVD system, putting it ahead of competition such as Veeco and Aixtron.ADNFCR-3152-ID-19584665-ADNFCR

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