e:lumix cranks up LED production in Germany

October 05, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
After having launched several manufacturing lines in China, LED manufactuerer e:lumix is about return to its roots in Augsburg (Germany): The company is preparing a new production facility in this town. Plus, it is expanding its R&D activities here.

e:lumix has invested some 70 million euros into the new buildings which will contain R&D labs and an integrated fab. Currently, the pre-run qualification is under way; production ramp-up is scheduled for Q1/2013, said e:lumix CEO Thomas Zabel in an interview with EE Times Europe. The R&D budget of the privately held company is about 40 million euros per year.

The company has developed a unique (and patented) chip architecture for LEDs. Zabel declined to go into details very deeply, but he claims that his company succeeded in creating an LED that inherently is protected against overload. By manipulating the carrier distribution in the pn junction region, the device generates much less heat than conventional LEDs - and this heat is distributed more evenly, Zabel explained. Based on this low heat generation, Zabel believes that LEDs with a thermal efficiency of 90% or even more could be possible.

The self-protecting mechanism is not the only differentiating factor in e:lumix' LED technology. For instance, the company has already performed the switchover from sapphire wafers to silicon, Zabel explained in his presentation at the LpS LED symposium in Bregenz. Plus, its Liquid Processing Epitaxy (LPE) contributes to improve process quality, resulting in a yield of better than 90 percent. This chemical process also significantly reduces backend production cost, he said.

This chip architecture is not something for a distant future, Zabel pointed out. In its production lines in China (two front-end and two back-end fabs), mass production is under way, but for capacity reasons the availability is limited, he said.

The company produces blue LEDs. Combined with a color converter, the devices yield white light. "We can produce any color but red", Zabel said. The production technology allows very fine tuning of the light color, doing away with binning, he added. "Binning becomes redundant. We can produce any light temperature on demand, with very low tolerances".

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