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Saturday, September 11, 2004
Japanese giants size up blue laser production

NEC, Toshiba and Matsushita all plan to start manufacturing blue diode lasers next year, according to reports in Japan.

A raft of major Japanese electronics firms will begin mass production of blue diode lasers next year, claims the Tokyo-based Nihon Keizai Shimbun business newspaper.

The firms listed in the report include NEC, Toshiba, Matsushita, Sony, Sharp and Sanyo.

Until now, fellow Japanese company Nichia, which has a licensing agreement with Sony, has had a stranglehold on the blue laser market. Nichia itself has a new building already primed to meet the expected increase in demand for the devices in next-generation data storage applications.

The report says that NEC Compound Semiconductor Devices will begin sample shipments in the first half of 2005, with lasers manufactured by NEC Kansai Ltd. and assembly outsourced to another company in Japan.

Meanwhile, Toshiba is reported to have developed production technology to bring the cost of a laser to about $46 per unit. It is also believed to be starting mass production of lasers in the first half of next year, as well as releasing a DVD recorder.

Matsushita, which told Compound Semiconductor magazine earlier this year that it hoped to manufacture devices on GaN substrates, recently released a DVD recorder featuring a blue laser made by Nichia. It plans to introduce products featuring its own lasers next year, says the report.

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