Inlustra Starts Nonpolar Gallium Nitride Production

April 13, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

Inlustra Technologies, a California-based startup spun out from the gallium nitride research laboratories at the University of California at Santa Barbara, has now developed a scalable production process for nonpolar and semipolar GaN substrates. The company is expanding its production facilities and has recently started to fill orders from customers. Inlustra was founded in 2005 by Drs. Ben Haskell and Paul Fini and provides high-quality gallium nitride substrates for optoelectronic devices to laser, LED, and academic customers.

According to the company, gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor materials are critical for the production of compact and highly efficient green, blue, violet, and ultraviolet light sources. They form the basis for green LEDs for traffic signals, white LEDs as backlights for modern high-definition/high contrast displays, and blue laser diodes for Blu-Ray DVD players. More importantly, GaN-based white LEDs used for general lighting will become a highly efficient, non-toxic replacement for fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, yielding energy savings equivalent to over 5 billion barrels of oil over the next 20 years (according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy).

GaN has a crystal structure that causes some of its properties to vary strongly with orientation. The nonpolar and semipolar planes of this structure have excited practitioners in recent years as alternatives to the conventional polar GaN c-plane, which faces some fundamental device efficiency limitations. Nonpolar and semipolar GaN promise markedly increased device performance, manufacturing yields, and device longevity compared to conventional GaN technology. While the benefits of gallium nitride substrates are widely acknowledged, producing the material has proven challenging, especially in the nonpolar and semipolar orientations.

"Our proprietary crystal growth techniques significantly reduce the number of microscopic defects in the substrates, which will enable our customers to realize improved yields in their device production processes", says Paul Fini, Chief Technology Officer at Inlustra.

The company is currently offering nonpolar GaN substrate sizes between 5 x 10mm and 10 x 20mm but will scale up its process to 2" over the next 9 to 12 months.