17 Jun 2002
In a surprise move, Shuji Nakamura, the pioneer for Nichia Chemical Industries of the blue semiconductor laser based on gallium nitride technology, has joined the Japanese company's arch rival Cree of Durham, North Carolina, in the US.
The news comes at the same time as Cree announced that it had filed a lawsuit against Nakamura's former employer for patent infringement covering the growth of GaN structures.
Announcing good financial results, Cree CEO Neil Hunter let it be known that his company had landed the services of Nakamura in a research capacity. Nakamura left Nichia earlier this year to become a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, instead of taking up a high-paying job in US industry. Nichia holds the patents on all of Nakamura's work so there could be a clear conflict of interest if Nakamura now worked for a rival in the same field.
Cree told Optics Org that Nakamura was a part-time employee of the company but refused to disclose the nature of the research that Nakamura will be performing. Nor would the company comment on the current patent litigation or what role Nakamura would play in the dispute.
The lawsuit was filed in September following the granting of a US patent covering lateral epitaxial overgrowth of GaN to North Carolina State University in April. The university granted Cree a licence to the technology in June 1999. Cree is seeking an injunction against Nichia importing and selling certain GaN laser diodes in the US.