Sanyo Electric plans to start mass production of blue lasers for data replay devices such as DVD players, in April 2003. Blue laser beams have shorter wavelengths than red or infrared laser beams, which are used in conventional CD and DVD players. The shorter the wavelength of light, the smaller the spot the laser beam makes on the disc. Blue lasers will allow approximately five to six times as much data to be stored on and read from a disc.
The Osaka-based company has developed a 405-nanometer wavelength blue laser, using its own technologies, the company announced in March this year. Sanyo's blue laser is based on a gallium nitride substrate, which enables cutting down the size of the device and the optical noise it creates.
"The blue laser technology is a must, in order to develop DVDs that can be replayed or record more data," says Akihiko Ohiwa, a Sanyo spokesperson.
The ability of vendors to develop electronics products based on blue lasers is hampered by patents held in the field by Nichia, based in Tokushima Prefecture, which developed the first blue laser diodes, and is now engaged in a series of lawsuits over intellectual property rights in this field.
"Because those patents are not open, each vendor needs to develop its own technology," Ohiwa says.
Sanyo is planning to produce up to around 1 million or 2 million units a month at its 100 percent subsidiary in Tottori Prefecture, Ohiwa says.
Sharp, in Osaka, also plans mass production of blue laser modules, using its own technology, at its newly established plant at Mihara, Hiroshima Prefecture in the near future, the company said in a statement in June.