Sapphire Industry Watch – August 22

  • Kobe Bryant Is At Loss For Words After Seeing Nike’s Futuristic LED Court – Yahoo Sports: During a recent trip to Shanghai’s basketball training facility, Kobe Bryant helped Nike debut an LED basketball court with lighting that resembles a video game in technology and design. It can be used as a training or practice aid by employing the motion sensors built into the floor to track players’ movements. The high-tech court is part of Nike’s “Rise” initiative with youth players in China in advance of its World Basketball Festival, September, in Barcelona.
  • Entrepreneur Lights Up LEDs To Improve Car Safety – USA Today: Entrepreneur Michael Haas caught the media’s attention at Monterey Car Week with his custom addition to the black Jaguar he drives: a row of sequential amber LED lights on the car’s doors that blink in unison with turn signals as an extra, stylish, safety measure. The Haas Perimeter Lighting Technology system is designed to warn drivers in another car’s blind spot that the vehicle is turning or changing lanes, and as well as adding an elegant aesthetic. Haas is pitching the system to major automakers as well as selling to dealers and vendors.
  • What Is Sapphire, The Super-Tough Display Material That Might Come To The iPhone? – Fast Company: With the buzz surrounding Apple’s iPhone 6 release, Fast Company breaks down the basics of sapphire and its uses in the smartphone industry. Author Chris Gayomali explains how sapphire comes to be and its incredible strength, as well as the other products that already use sapphire.
  • Mid-Power LEDs To Account For 48% Of Markets In 2014 – Semiconductor Today: IHS Inc. analyst Jamie Fox predicts the growing lighting end-market in 2014 to account for 35 percent of all packaged LED dollars, more than all backlighting combined. He also predicts that mid-power devices will represent 48 percent of packaged LED revenue in lighting applications in 2014 and 81 percent in terms of units. The market for mid-power LEDs has grown rapidly, and Fox predicts 2015 will see an even larger increase due to inclusion of cost-effective LED backlighting as an essential part of most global companies’ portfolios.
  • Lighting Improvement Project Will Enhance Campus Sustainability – News at Princeton: As part of the Princeton Sustainability Plan, the university will convert more than 100,000 fixtures to LED in buildings around campus. By using LED technology, the university will increase cost savings as well as lower the maintenance costs due to LEDs long expected life. The goal of the Sustainability Plan is to reduce the university’s carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

A Vertically Integrated Approach to Sapphire Production

One of the things we take pride in at Rubicon Technology is our end-to-end manufacturing capabilities.

By having state-of-the-art facilities that support vertical integration, starting with the raw material aluminum oxide, we’re able to eliminate excess costs for our customers, and provide greater quality control to ensure the delivery of defect-free sapphire with diameters of 2, 4, 6, and soon, 8 inches.

This ultimately benefits LED chip manufacturers since high-quality, large-diameter wafers provide a higher yield and reduce costs of LEDs for commercial and residential use. Improved cost and luminous efficiency are fundamental to the acceleration of LED adoption in the marketplace — and continue to be strategic priorities for Rubicon.

The infographic below explains the basics of the six-step process of transforming sapphire into an LED module. Rubicon carries out steps 1 through 4 of the process — from crystal growth to wafer processing — before turning over to LED chip manufacturers.

We should also note that Rubicon recently started providing patterned sapphire substrates (PSS) to increase the LEDs’ light output by up to 30 percent. PSS is added directly prior to the epitaxial growth process.

The latter part of the process, after drilling, is primarily carried out in Rubicon’s facility in Malaysia. This facility enables Rubicon to reduce costs associated with making a 6-inch wafer.

For more info on the benefits of a vertically integrated approach, check out pages 50-55 of Compound Semiconductor’s March 2013 edition.

Sapphire Industry Watch – August 15

  • National Workshop on LED in Kochi College – Business Standard: A two-day national workshop in India on Intelligent and Energy Efficient LED Lighting Systems featured presentations of previously unpublished papers. Industry researchers, scientists and leading engineers collaborated and shared research concerning all aspects of LED lighting systems and practical challenges they may encounter.
  • LEDs Are Favorite For Energy Managers – Energy Live News: Energy Live News released the findings of a survey conducted in July 2014 of 100 energy buyers and managers and found that 83 percent of respondents bought LED lighting as an energy efficient measure in the last 12 months. 80 percent of respondents plan to implement more LED lighting in the future.
  • OnePlus OneWatch (Smartwatch) With Rounded Display, Sapphire Protection and Wireless Charging in The Offing – Tough Luck for Moto 360 – International Business Times: OnePlus, known for the smartphone “One” released in June, recently leaked information regarding OneWatch, its entry into the smartwatch arena. Among its many desirable features, OneWatch has a rounded OLED display protected by sapphire glass to increase durability as well as appearance.
  • Florida Town Keeps Sea Turtles Safe With Turtle-Friendly LEDtronics LED Shoebox Lights – LEDs Magazine: In partnership with Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch and a grant from the Sea Turtle Conservatory, the city of Fernandina Beach in Florida has installed LED high-power, turtle-friendly lighting to protect sea turtle nesting as well as people’s safety. The newly installed fixtures will decrease maintenance costs and meet the requirements for Florida’s F&WCC Wildlife Lighting Certification Program to minimally intrude on nesting beaches for loggerhead, green and leatherback sea turtles.
  • The Latest Tool to Combat Domestic Violence: LED Cameras – Slate: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department recently purchased six Illumacams, cameras with alternate light sources from 32 small LEDs to utilize different light spectrums, to bring to domestic violence calls. These cameras are able to detect traces of bruising that may have disappeared from the naked eye and will intervene in possibly life-threatening situations earlier than other methods.
  • New iPhone: A Sapphire Screen and a Higher Cost – Wall Street Journal: The cost of production of sapphire is much higher than Corning’s Gorilla Glass, and Yole analyst Eric Virey is predicting a higher cost of iPhone models that will use sapphire glass for touchscreens. Sapphire is more durable than Gorilla Glass, the faceplate used in current iPhone models, and is expected to reduce warranty costs for Apple due to screen replacement. However, if the price of the model is not increased, Apple is facing decreased profit margins ahead of its much anticipated release of the iPhone 6.


Sapphire Industry Watch – August 8

  • Sapphire Hunter: Skeptics Are Doubting Apple’s Plans For The iPhone 6, But This Analyst Still Believes — Forbes: Analyst Matt Margolis explains why it is still probable Apple will include sapphire as its protective faceplate among daily doubt and skepticism.
  • Huawei Experimenting With Sapphire Crystal Screens, Flaunts Modified Ascend P7 — Digital Trends: The largest telecommunications company in the world demonstrated the strength and durability of sapphire faceplates on a model of a recently released phone, but has yet to announce if this will be released at a later date or was just demonstrating the capability of the faceplate.
  • The Next Great Light Bulb — Slate: A “layman’s” explanation to wattage, lumens and why LED bulbs are the most energy efficient bulbs in the market, as well as why consumers should give LEDs a chance. He responds to a previous article criticizing LEDs and praising CFLs by comparing four separate LED bulbs by efficiency, brightness and light color.
  • Industrial Electronics Chip Sector Rebounds — EE Times: Industrial Semiconductor Market Tracker – Q2 2014 report has been released, and industrial electronics chip revenue reached $8.61 billion, up 17.5 percent from Q1 2013. Analysts credit the demand in various markets, including LED lighting, as well as global industrial growth for the rebounding earnings, and project a 9.4 percent increase from year-end in 2013.
  • NRG Stadium Gets an Energy Makeover: Houston Texans Home is Now an LED and Solar Power Groundbreaker — Culture Map Houston: NRG Stadium in Houston will be the first professional football stadium in the country with LED lights shining on the field and solar panels installed to help power the stadium. The renovation is part of the NRG Park’s sustainability master plan, which includes electric car charging stations and mobile charging stations

LEDs Shine Brighter with Patterned Sapphire Substrates (PSS)

LEDs are being adopted across a wide range of products, from general lighting, automobile headlights and traffic signals, to backlighting for consumer devices like HDTVs, smartphones and tablets.

Evidence of that, LED manufacturers racing to improve luminous output and reduce cost in order to win greater market share.

The July/August 2014 issue of LEDs Magazine features Rubicon Technology’s Donggeun Ko, Jacob Yoon and Jangho Seo, who discuss how applying patterns on an LED substrate or wafer can significantly help increase LED light extraction.

In fact, it’s reported that patterning can improve the extraction of light by as much as 30 percent.

The article in LEDs Magazine outlines key considerations for effective PSS design to maximize light output of LED chips, such as reducing defect density and total internal reflection losses.

The full article in LEDs Magazine can be viewed here.

It’s also worth mentioning …

Today, sapphire wafer manufacturers have begun to put patterns on sapphire wafers in partnership with the LED chip manufacturers, with most sapphire manufacturers concentrating on small diameter patterning in the 2-to-4 in. range.

Manufacturers of large diameter wafers, such as Rubicon Technology, are developing PSS for large wafers (up to 8 in. diameters) and differentiating their offerings with better quality control and an unmatched end-to-end manufacturing process.

Interested in learning more? Check out additional info about patterned sapphire substrates here.