Business News | Sep 05, 2006

Crystal IS raises $10.6m in second-round funding for AlN substrates

Crystal IS Inc of Green Island, NY, USA, which is commercializing native, single-crystal aluminum nitride substrates for high-power, high-temperature and optoelectronic devices, has completed a $10.6m second round of financing.

In May, Crystal IS said it expected to raise $7m. The investment round was led by Lux Capital, with participation from 3i, ARCH Venture Partners, Harris & Harris Group, Credit Suisse (on behalf of the New York State Common Retirement Fund) and Taiwanese Linkmore Ltd.

“This round of funding will allow Crystal IS to ramp production of the 2-inch substrates and reduce prices, enabling cost-efficient, high-performance ultraviolet devices and opening new opportunities in current high-volume consumer applications,” said Dr Ding Day, CEO of Crystal IS.

Crystal IS was founded in the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) incubator program to develop growth technology for native AlN crystals and the manufacture of low-defect AlN substrates. The company had previously raised $5.1m in September 2004 to scale its technology. In May, Crystal IS released the world’s first low-defect-density (1000cm-2) 2-inch native AlN substrates. Competing technologies can only offer small areas of less than 2/3-inch or have a high defect density, the company claims. Low-defect AlN substrates will enable low-cost, high-efficiency, high-reliability UV optoelectronic products and high-power RF components. UV optoelectronic products have applications in compact explosives detection devices, water purification and medical products. Crystal IS says its manufacturing technique can also be further scaled for the production of highly affordable substrates, making the process suitable for low-cost applications such as white lighting.

Crystal IS has also developed a GaN-Ready version of its AlN substrates, where an epitaxial layer of gallium nitride is grown on the AlN substrate to address high-volume GaN markets such as 405nm lasers for Blu Ray and HD DVD as well as high-power LEDs.

After expanding its management team with CEO Ding Day in February and VP, business development, sales and marketing Timothy Bettles in April, Crystal IS is now expanding its manufacturing team to manage the demand for its 2-inch substrates for these high-volume applications, it says. Previously, in June 2005, Crystal IS had moved from 6000 square feet of a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute incubator building in Watervliet, NY to a 10,500 square foot facility in nearby Green Island, NY.


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