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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ultratech to Share DOE Grant for Solid State Lighting

Ultratech Inc, (UTEK charts) will share a $23.5M Department of Energy (DOE) grant with Applied Materials (AMAT Charts), GE Global Research (GE Charts), GE Lumination, KLA-Tencor Corporation (KLAC), Philips Lumileds Lighting Company, Universal Display Corporation (UDC) and Veeco Instruments as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support manufacturing high-efficiency solid-state lighting projects.

"Low-Cost Lithography Tool for High-Brightness LED Manufacturing"

Ultratech, with team member SemiLEDs, will attempt to develop a lithographic manufacturing tool with the benefits of higher throughput, greater yields, lower initial capital cost, and lower cost of ownership. Ultratech will modify a projection stepper process used for larger wafers and optimize it for LED manufacturing. The proposed new manufacturing tool will be able to accommodate a variety of wafer sizes and thicknesses and handle the wafer warpage typically associated with larger-diameter wafers.

From DOE Announces Selections for SSL Core Technology (Round 6), Product Development (Round 6), and U.S. Manufacturing (Round 1) Funding Opportunities

These eight selections

"are focused on achieving significant cost reductions and enhancing quality through improvements in manufacturing equipment, processes, or monitoring techniques. Projects address the technical challenges that must be overcome before prices fall to a level where solid-state lighting will be competitive with existing lighting on a first-cost basis. The total value of manufacturing selections is $23.5 million; the performers will provide an average of 51 percent as cost-share.

A major DOE objective in funding these projects is to develop, establish, and/or maintain the solid-state lighting technology and manufacturing base within the U.S., which will create jobs and promote our nation's role as a leader in the field. "

Ultratech has said during conference calls it now sells a new, low cost (under $1M) solder bump stepper for small wafers (probably between 1 and 3 inches) used for white LEDs that will replace incandescent and fluorescent lights. Ultratech said it expects this market for efficient visible LEDs to grow 35% per year starting in 2010.

To get costs down, manufactures will want to use larger wafers similar to how microprocessors and other silicon based semiconductors grew from 3-inches in diameter 30 years ago to 12 inches today.

Disclaimer: I own and trade UTEK around a core position in both my personal account and in my newsletter with a very low cost basis. My newsletter "Explore Portfolio" currently has a break-even cost of $2.91 per share for UTEK where I have set prices already announced for selling shares. I may buy or sell shares at any time so beware. I also own AMAT and GE in both my personal account and my newsletter explore portfolio.

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