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Sumitomo Electric, United States of America

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Sumitomo Electric has opened a 9,000m² center for making 6in GaAs substrates in Hillsboro, Oregon (USA). Volume production began in June 2002 after a total initial investment of $20 million and there is potential for an extra $70 million expansion as demand in wireless markets continues to escalate.

The Oregon Silicon Forest Site forms Sumitomo's new US Headquarters and employs 30 people. The facility polishes gallium arsenide wafers manufactured by its parent company in Japan. Production will initially focus on wafers used in wireless communication devices like mobile phone handsets. The wafers are the raw material for communications and cell phone chips made by companies such as TriQuint Semiconductor.

The company hopes to process as many 10,000 wafers a month and eventually integrate wafer production at the site when market conditions revive. A second phase expansion into the production of large diameter Indium Phosphide wafers is also planned.


The Oregon plant is Sumitomo Electric's first in the United States. Dr. Kenichi Yoshida, managing director of Sumitomo Electric, remarked that 'Silicon Forest' has excellent infrastructure for semiconductor manufacturing, including highly reliable utilities, a well educated work force and proximity to key sources of supply. The plant joins those in Itami and Kobe in Japan and Hsinchu in Taiwan.

Sumitomo Electric has several decades of experience in HB and LEC crystal growth. Besides making gallium arsenide and indium phosphide substrates, the company also supplies epitaxial wafers grown by OMVPE, MBE and VPE. The company focuses on OMVPE for high volume manufacturing of epi wafers for microwave, optoelectronics, telecom lasers and photodiodes. Sumitomo's MBE uses advanced PHEMT technology. The company grows high purity PIN epitaxial structures using VPE, producing photodiodes with low dark current.

Today, the company is ramping up production for its newest VB crystal growth technique. These wafers show low residual strain to reduce wafer distortion, low slip line generation, so less breakage, and low EPD substrates for high quality epitaxy.


Compound Semiconductors have high-speed operation from the materials' high electron mobility, with the ability to generate microwave signals. They also work at low voltages for lighter and longer lasting low voltage batteries used in portable devices. A typical mobile phone handset can contain six or seven GaAs chips, providing the high-speed switching devices, the power and the low noise amplifier functions.

Compound semiconductors can emit visible and infrared light for lasers and LEDs and are also sensitive to light for photodetectors. Some are sensitive to magnetism (for sensors) and others are resistant to heat and radiation (for space applications like solar cells for satellites).

The company originally developed its GaAs metal semiconductor field effect transistors (MESFETs) for low distortion power applications. It has good linearity and good electron transportation properties for high frequency operation. Sumito's existing devices for optical communications include the F01 (wide band, high sensitivity and low noise preamplifier ICs for optical communication), F03 (limiting amplifier ICs for post amplifiers of the F01 series), F05 (LD drivers with ringing free wave shape), F06 (LED driver ICs also with ringing free wave shape) and F08 series (PD preamplifier modules).


Sumitomo Electric has been manufacturing compound semiconductor materials in its Japanese facilities for more than 30 years. Sumitomo Electric Industries is a diversified manufacturer with sales of over $13 billion in 1999. The Hillsboro facility will be part of Sumitomo Electric's Semiconductor Division. The division has sales offices in New York and San Francisco. Sumitomo Electric is also constructing production facilities in Yokohama and Kobe, Japan and Taiwan.