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Sumitomo To Use Soitec Technology On GaN Substrates

The partnership is aimed at developing and marketing re-useable gallium nitride substrates for high-performance LED lighting applications
Soitec, a manufacturer of revolutionary semiconductor materials for the electronics and energy industries, and Sumitomo Electric Industries, a global provider of compound semiconductor materials, have signed a licensing and technology-transfer agreement.

Sumitomo Electric will use Soitec's proprietary Smart Cut technology to manufacture engineered GaN substrates.

This announcement is a key step in the ongoing strategic alliance, launched in December 2010 to leverage Sumitomo Electric's expertise in materials technology and Soitec's unique Smart Cut layer-transfer technology to develop the global market for GaN substrates used in high-performance LED lighting applications.

The joint development program between Soitec and Sumitomo Electric has already successfully demonstrated the capability to produce four- and six-inch engineered GaN substrates in a pilot production environment.

High-quality, ultra-thin layers of GaN have been repeatedly transferred from a single source wafer onto multiple substrates developed by Sumitomo Electric. The engineered wafers have exhibited high functionality at a low production cost. Having proven the effectiveness of the technology- transfer process, Sumitomo Electric will now industrialise the product and invest in Smart Cut technology.

"Today's announcement represents a very important step in the material roadmap for the compound semiconductor market, and a first step in our strategy," says Frédéric Dupont, vice president of Soitec's Specialty Electronics Business Unit.

"This is the first licensing agreement of our Smart Cut technology to leverage a reusable, expensive base material to bring an economically viable process to this field. Sumitomo Electric's proven track record in innovative materials development and their in-house manufacturing expertise are key assets in developing the most cost-effective substrate material for high-quality LEDs," continues Dupont.

Yoshiki Miura , general manager of the Compound Semiconductor Materials Division at Sumitomo Electric, says, "By combining the two innovative technologies - Soitec's Smart Cut technology and our high-quality, large-diameter, free-standing GaN substrates - we are able to offer a high-value proposition to our LED customers. Soitec's unique material-transfer technology enables the reuse of GaN wafers several times, achieving a substantial reduction in the cost of high-quality GaN materials to serve high-volume applications."

Soitec' s Smart Cut technology has been developed in collaboration with the CEA-Leti of France, one of the world's premier microelectronics research laboratories. It uses both implantation of light ions and wafer bonding to respectively define and transfer ultra-thin, single-crystal layers from one substrate to another. It works like an atomic scalpel, allowing active layers to be managed independently from the supporting mechanical substrate.

The technology enables the development of new families of standard and custom engineered wafers. It was made viable for high-volume commercial production by Soitec, and is now protected by more than 3,000 Soitec-owned or controlled patents worldwide. Today, Soitec leverages the Smart Cut technology to manufacture engineered wafers for the world's leading chipmakers, and holds exclusive rights to use and license this technology to third-party materials and process suppliers.

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Thanks to the great diversity of the semiconductor industry, we are always chasing new markets and developing a range of exciting technologies.

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