Bensenville, Illinois – Rubicon Technology Inc., a provider of sapphire substrates and products to the LED, semiconductor, consumer electronics and optical industries, has successfully produced the first synthetic sapphire crystal of its size and thickness, meeting a key milestone in its Large-Area Net-Shape Crystal Extraction (LANCE) project. At 36" x 18" x 2", this sapphire product will serve the demanding needs of defense applications, along with future commercial and industrial applications.
Supported by a research contract from the United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Electronic & Sensors Branch, Materials & Manufacturing Directorate, the LANCE project encompasses the development of large-area sapphire windows of optical quality for military sensing applications. Previous sapphire production methods were incapable of supporting the growth of sapphire crystals at the thickness needed by the AFRL, so Rubicon drew on its decade of experience and culture of innovation to develop an entirely new growth platform enabling the production of very large sapphire windows of up to 2" thick.
“Creating sapphire to meet the size required by the Air Force is incredibly complex and time-intensive, but we were intrigued by the challenge of achieving something that has never been done before and delivering a product unlike anything the market has ever seen,” said William Weissman, Rubicon Technology interim CEO. “While the project is not finalized, we are incredibly encouraged by this milestone. The potential applications for this product are almost limitless and will provide benefits to both the military and industrial applications for decades to come.”
The military and other high-performance industries desire sapphire at this size due to its strength, optical clarity in the visible and infrared spectra, hardness, abrasion resistance, and thermal conductivity. The large sapphire windows produced by Rubicon are intended for use as infrared windows in extreme environments where both durability and optical clarity are important.
“The Air Force Research Laboratory identifies, develops, and integrates new technologies into the U.S. air, space, and cyberspace forces,” said Jamie Hoff, United States Air Force. “It is encouraging to see that Rubicon Technology has taken such a significant step in materials development to help the AFRL meet the advanced demands of military sensor technology through the production of large-area optical quality sapphire.”
Source: Rubicon Technology