Sharp is to boost production of red semiconductor lasers during the coming year by as much as 100%, according to a report in the Nikkei Business Daily newspaper. Such devices, which operate in the 650-660 nm range, are used in DVD players.
The growing popularity of DVD players, particularly in China, is causing a shift in the semiconductor laser market. Japanese companies such as Sharp, which together with rivals Sony and Sanyo dominates the production of lasers for CD and DVD applications, are moving away from infrared devices and toward red lasers.
Sharp now produces about 3 million red lasers a month, and its plans call for an increase to somewhere in the range of 4.5-6 million units a month. Production of high-quality lasers suitable for DVD recorders will total more than 1 million a month. However, as infrared laser production declines, Sharp's total production of semiconductor lasers will remain at around 11-12 million units a month during the coming year.
Sharp plans to shift all production of red semiconductor lasers to its Mihara plant in Hiroshima Prefecture, which opened in May 2002. The company's Nara plant will stop making red lasers, but will continue to perform finishing and processing, along with a plant in Indonesia.