Rubicon Technology Inc of Bensenville, IL, USA, which makes monocrystalline sapphire substrates and products for the LED, RFIC, semiconductor and optical industries, has opened its first facility outside the USA.
The plant in Penang, Malaysia will be responsible for labor-intensive crystal polishing processes, significantly expanding the firm’s production capacity for large-diameter (6-, 8- and 12-inch) polished wafers.
As the only vertically integrated manufacturer of large-diameter sapphire wafers in large volumes, Rubicon supplies to LED makers worldwide. The Malaysia facility, combined with Rubicon’s new 135,000ft2 crystal growth facility in Batavia, IL which produced its first boule in early November (both leveraging large-diameter sapphire), have been established to deliver the sapphire capacity necessary to support the growing demand for LEDs in the consumer electronics and general lighting industries.
“Rubicon’s recent build-out of infrastructure optimizes our ability to deliver large-diameter sapphire wafers in large volumes to our customers worldwide,” says president & CEO Raja Parvez. “While the Batavia facility leverages the stability and lower cost of valuable resources such as power, the facility in Malaysia leverages the location to further lower costs and bring our extensive experience in polishing large-diameter wafers close to the LED, consumer electronics and general lighting manufacturers in Asia,” he adds.
Market research firm iSuppli expects the global LED market to nearly double to almost $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 common consumer devices including tablets, notebooks, laptops, mobile phones, navigation devices, digital music players, digital photo frames, digital cameras and keypads, says Rubicon. LED usage in general lighting applications is also increasing significantly, particularly in applications like street lighting, industrial lighting and architectural lighting.
Rubicon claims that its expansion into Asia demonstrates its leadership in the production of high-quality, large-diameter sapphire wafers. The firm currently has the capability to produce polished sapphire wafers up to 12-inches in diameter. The transition to large-diameter wafers in LED production has started, it asserts. Earlier in 2010, Rubicon announced that it had entered into a $71m agreement with a major LED chip maker for which Rubicon will provide six-inch polished substrates.