DANBURY, Conn., Oct. 19 -- ATMI Inc., a provider of specialty materials and related equipment for the semiconductor industry, will expand on its ongoing venture to manufacture high-performance optical materials used in the development of blue laser diodes. The company recently acquired a $4 million contract from the Office of Naval Research and the Ballistic Missile Defense Operation to provide better GaN wafers for electronic and optoelectronic devices. In addition, ATMI has acquired patents on processes that allow for the manufacture of high-purity GaN wafers that are 50 mm and larger in diameter. Due to this recent progress, ATMI has decided to invest more resources into development and pilot manufacturing capacity. The forecasted markets for blue laser diodes and related devices are valued at several billion dollars, said George Brandes, general manager of the ATMI GaN venture. Blue laser diodes could not only nearly quadruple data storage on such media as DVDs, but also provide the means by which higher resolution printing and crisp, full-color projection displays could be achieved.