AlN firm tacks on $10.6M in funding

August 31, 2006 – Crystal IS Inc., Green Island, NY, a provider of aluminum nitride (AlN) substrates, has completed a second round of financing totaling $10.6 million, led by Lux Capital, with Venture Partners, Harris & Harris Group, Credit Suisse, and Taiwanese Linkmore Ltd. The funding will be used to ramp production of the company’s 2-in. substrates, reducing prices and opening new opportunities in current high volume consumer applications, according to Crystal IS CEO Ding Day.

Crystal IS was co-founded in 1997 by Glen Slack and Leo Schowalter from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, initially working under US government SBIR and DARPA grants. It raised $5.1 million in a first round of funding in Sept. 2004, and began extending its work to commercial applications of AlN in 2005, targeting both crystal growth and polishing.

Earlier this year the company announced limited availability of ~300µm thick low-defect wafers from AlN single-crystal boules, grown by sublimation and recondensation (not Czochralski or float-zone techniques) and then sliced and polished into 2-in. wafers ready for epitaxial growth. Other currently available AlN starting material is vapor-phase epitaxially grown on top of silicon carbide, gallium arsenide, or sapphire substrates, where lattice mismatch between the substrates and the AlN epi-layer results in dislocation densities.

Crystal IS says its 2-in. AlN substrates currently achieve <1000 dislocations/cm2 for ~50% of the wafer surface, with plans to achieve 80% by year’s end, and 100% by the end of 2007. The company has also developed a version of its AlN substrates topped with a GaN epitaxial layer, to address high-volume GaN markets such as 405nm lasers for Blu Ray and HD DVD as well as high power LEDs.

Beyond the currently established market for high-power RF discretes, the company sees potential in markets for high-power applications such as cell phone base stations, as well as high-temperature electronic and optoelectronic devices, high-power microwave devices, UV optical detectors, and UV light-emitting diodes (UV-LED) and lasers. Other applications include compact explosives detection devices and water purification.


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