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10 June 2014

Crystal IS makes available AlN-based Optan UVC LEDs for spectroscopic applications in analytical and life sciences Instrumentation

Crystal IS Inc of Green Island, NY, USA, an Asahi Kasei company that makes proprietary ultraviolet light-emitting diodes (UVC LEDs) grown pseudomorphically (strained) on aluminum nitride (AlN) substrates, has announced availability of its Optan UVC LED. Reckoned to be the first commercial semiconductor product based on native AIN substrates, Optan provides a unique technology platform for increased detection sensitivity, essential for analytical and life sciences instrumentation - from monitoring of chemicals in pharmaceutical manufacturing to drinking water analysis.

Optan is targeted at design engineers looking to overcome limitations associated with traditional UV lamps, including deuterium and xenon flash lamps. Crystal IS says that, as an enabling technology, Optan allows developers to fully exploit the power of UV-based technology to improve productivity, increase accuracy and create greater flexibility in product designs.

“Optan will help instrument manufacturers build smaller, more powerful tools and products with a lower overall system cost,” says CEO Larry Felton.

The superior light output and spectral quality of the Optan UVC LED technology - made possible by the unique, low-defect AIN substrate - delivers what Crystal IS claims is best-in-class reliability and longer lifetimes, a “game changer” for life sciences and analytical instrumentation, including environmental monitoring.

Immediate application cases include:

  • HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography), a powerful tool in analysis for detecting chemicals and compounds in life sciences;
  • spectrometers, used in multiple applications in testing and analysis across biotech, life sciences and environmental monitoring; and
  • water quality monitoring sensors, which are becoming increasingly important for detecting chemicals in water (from fracking, water security and the use of treated wastewater).

Optan LEDs are currently available in peak wavelengths from 250nm to 280nm and power bins from 0.5mW to 2mW (compared with just 1mW for UVC LEDs grown on sapphire). The new LEDs are suitable for spectroscopic applications because of their high spectral quality (with wavelength bins of 5nm – comparable with sapphire-based UVC LEDs) and reliability (with a lifetime of 3000 hours at the maximum drive current of 100mA – versus just 300-800 hours for sapphire-based UVC LEDs – and 7000 hours at 20mA). Full availability for all bins under 3mW is anticipated for third-quarter 2014, with higher-power bins (3-4mW) available this Fall. The LEDs are supplied in a TO-39 ball lens package with a viewing angle of 15°. However, future higher-power versions for applications requiring higher light output (e.g. disinfection and sterilization) will be provided in different packages (e.g. SMT). Such products in development are currently undergoing quality testing.

As Crystal IS geared up for full-scale production, it tripled furnace capacity for optoelectronic-grade AlN substrates and, between January 2013 and March 2014, increased staffing by23% (to 42) in Green Island (where the firm conducts substrate growth and MOCVD epitaxy, as well as product development). Additional senior-level reruitment is expected over the next 6-8 months. Already, last November, Crystal IS’ parent firm, Japan-based integrated chemical manufacturer Asahi Kasei, announced that during 2014 it would build a trial production line at its ‘Fuji branch’ subsidiary (where it has an R&D lab) to manufacture germicidal UV LEDs (from where it will ship the fabricated chips to packagers in Asia). Asahi Kasei is said to be investing 10bn yen (about $100m) in its UV LED business.

See related items:

Crystal IS adds VP of operations and expands plant as it readies commercial manufacturing

Crystal IS extracts record 65mW cw at 260nm from single-chip UVC LED

Tags: Crystal IS UVC LEDs

Visit: www.cisuvc.com/products/optan

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