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Rubicon Technology Begins On-Site Processing of Aluminum Oxide Used to Ensure High Quality, Sapphire Crystal Growth

Date Announced: 21 Oct 2011

Rubicon extends its integrated manufacturing efforts to include internally-processed powder.

Bensenville, Ill – Oct. 21, 2011 -- Rubicon Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:RBCN), a leading provider of sapphire substrates and products to the LED, RFIC, Semiconductor, and Optical industries, today announced that the company has begun the transition to on premise processing of aluminum oxide used for the production of sapphire wafers.

Using a customized in-house method, Rubicon converts raw aluminum oxide powder into a form usable in the company’s industry-leading crystal growth process, Rubicon ES2. This process enables the company to reduce its manufacturing costs while increasing control of the quality of its raw materials.

In addition to providing greater control of quality and cost, this new process developed by Rubicon’s team of crystal growth engineers forms the powder into different shapes which can optimize the space in the crucibles in its crystal growth furnaces, thereby resulting in larger crystals.

“As the LED industry transitions to larger diameter substrates, ensuring a steady supply of raw material becomes increasingly important,” said Raja Parvez, Rubicon president and CEO. “Large diameter wafers are as much as three times thicker than two- to four-inch wafers and require more aluminum oxide. As the world’s leader in large diameter sapphire, it is important that our new on-site processing capability brings us a reliable supply of raw material that we can process into large diameter sapphire wafers for LED manufacturers.”

Advances in raw material handling combined with recent company-wide installation of enhancements to its proprietary crystal growth furnaces, Rubicon Furnace Version ES2-XLG3.0, delivers cost efficiencies for the production of large diameter sapphire. Rubicon’s next generation ES2-XLG3.0 furnaces provide automation for vacuum monitoring and crystal growth rates for greater yield consistency.

The furnaces require less operator intervention at 5 employees per 100 furnaces at any given time. ES2-XLG3.0 furnaces operate in Rubicon’s United States high-efficiency crystal growth facilities in Batavia and Bensenville, Illinois.

The transition to larger diameter wafers in LED production has started. Several key LED chip manufacturers have announced plans to migrate to and/or test large diameter wafers in 2011/2012. Rubicon’s robust process platforms for large diameter sapphire wafers and the company’s ability to scale to commercial volumes, creates superior performance factors for the LED industry. To date, Rubicon has successfully shipped more than 150,000 six-inch sapphire wafers.

According to market research firm DisplaySearch, TV applications currently dominate the LED market, but LED lighting will capture the lead by 2014. The firm said that LED lighting penetration rate in 2010 was 1.4%, and is forecast to reach 9.6% in 2014 with the growth due to government incentive programs, and growth in commercial applications and consumer adoption worldwide.

Source: Rubicon Technology

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