IP, Reports & Roadmaps | Sep 06, 2006

Epistar licenses unique LED technology from ITRI

Taipei, Epistar Corp., a leading Taiwanese supplier of light emitting diode (LED) chips, has recently licensed a unique technology for boosting LED lumen from the government-backed Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), making its patent deployment more complete.

The licensed technology, whose core is the transparent indium tin oxide (ITO) electrode, is proved to be able to squeeze 20-50% more light from the diode, much higher than the performance of the diodes using its self-developed ITO technology.

Metal electrodes have traditionally been used on LED chips. However, metal, with its non-transparent nature, is not good at letting light through.

ITRI President Johnsee Lee pointed out that the technology was attractive even to Nichia and Osram, two of world’s leading holders of LED patents. The technology, he said, would sharpen Epistar’s competitive edge by allowing it to use the technology as a bargain chip in negotiating cross-licensing deals with international heavyweights.

Epistar is Taiwan’s first LED manufacturer to apply the technology to red LED chips. It developed the technology as soon as it was founded around 10 years ago. The latest licensing will allow it to further boost brightness of its diodes. The company has won around 200 patents. The company spends 5% of its revenue on technology research and development programs a year. Its chips are able to give off 70 to 80 lumens by consuming a watt of electricity, not far away from Nichia’s 100 lumen-per-watt performance.

Epistar put out 150 million chips a month in the second quarter, with ITO type representing 120 million units.

ITRI executives pointed out that high-brightness LEDs were the major force to drive up world LED market, which is expected to grow 100% in 2010 from 2005’s US$4 billion. They noted that Taiwan is already the world’s No. 1 LED supplier by volume, but its revenue of the industry is second to Japan’s, suggesting that its product value is still low. Patented technologies, they said, could help the Taiwanese industry boost product value.

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