company has completed a company-wide installation of enhancements to its proprietary crystal growth furnaces bringing all furnaces up to Rubicon Furnace Version ES2-XLG3.0. This is the latest version of the company’s proprietary furnace design for the production of high quality, large diameter sapphire material and provides even greater automation and yield consistency.
Over time, the company’s Design for High Volume Manufacturing (DHVM) approach has led to numerous furnace design improvements that have created an industry-leading equipment platform for high volume sapphire crystal growth. Rubicon Furnace Version ES2-XLG3.0 provides even greater automation resulting in additional yield improvements. The ES2-XLG3.0 encompasses numerous innovations and now operates in Rubicon’s United States high-efficiency crystal growth facilities in Batavia and Bensenville, Illinois.
“Compared to the production of other substrate materials, sapphire crystal growth is extremely complex,” explains Raja Parvez, Rubicon President and CEO. “Variables such as stable power, growth profiles, cooling profiles and feedback control mechanisms must be optimally managed to maximize the yield of quality sapphire crystal. This is even more vital when producing sapphire for the expanding large diameter wafer market. With hundreds of years of combined experience and innovations such as those embedded in the Rubicon Furnace Version ES2-XLG3.0, Rubicon’s design and equipment engineers and material scientists have achieved industry leading yields and performance.”
The Rubicon furnace design is just one component of the company’s efficient equipment platform that has differentiated the company in the large diameter sapphire wafer market. This effort, combined with Rubicon’s robust process platforms and the company’s ability to scale to high volume, creates superior performance factors for the LED industry. With the Batavia crystal growth facility qualified with more than a dozen customers and the Malaysia polishing facility now also qualified, Rubicon has successfully shipped more than 100,000 six inch sapphire wafers.
Market research firm iSuppli expects the global LED market to double to nearly $14.3bn by 2013, driven by the penetration of LEDs into the general illumination market including light bulbs. LEDs are a popular option for backlighting screens from HDTVs, traffic lights and large displays as well as in a broad range of popular consumer devices including tablets, notebooks, laptops, mobile phones, navigation devices, digital music players, digital photo frames, digital cameras and keypads. LED use in general lighting applications is also increasing significantly, particularly in applications like street lighting, industrial lighting and architectural lighting.
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.