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Thermal to Ship Crystal Grower

Photonics.com
Sep 2009
Thermal Technology of Santa Rosa, Calif., says it has successfully tested the first commercially available edge-defined, film-fed growth (EFG) crystal grower with the capacity to grow sapphire crystals up to 300 × 500 × 15 mm and will ship the first one to a customer this month. The first sapphire test plate grown was >15 mm thick, with no visible bubbles, cracks, ThermalTechnologies.jpggrain boundaries or twins.
Thermal Technology President and CEO Matt Mede displays a sapphire crystal produced by the company’s commercially available EFG crystal grower. Large plates such as these are required for applications including transparent armor. (Photo: Thermal Technology)
The EFG process, invented in the US more than 40 years ago for the production of sapphire filaments, has since been used to produce sapphire parts in a variety of shapes, including plates, tubes, rods and ribbons. “The market is requiring larger crystals, and up until now, large sapphire crystal producers had to build their own machines,” said Matt Mede, company president and CEO. Equipment for growing smaller EFG sapphire crystals is commercially available in the Ukraine. Sapphire (aluminum oxide) has a unique combination of physical and chemical properties, including hardness, transparency over a wide range of wavelengths from infrared to ultraviolet and a high dielectric strength. It is chemically inert and has a high melting point, making it suitable for applications including supermarket scanner windows, pads for orthodontics, substrates for GaN blue LEDs and silicon devices, wear surfaces, cutting edges, IR windows and transparent armor.


GLOSSARY
crystal
A solid with a structure that exhibits a basically symmetrical and geometrical arrangement. A crystal may already possess this structure, or it may acquire it through mechanical means. More than 50 chemical substances are important to the optical industry in crystal form. Large single crystals often are used because of their transparency in different spectral regions. However, as some single crystals are very brittle and liable to split under strain, attempts have been made to grind them very...
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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