Sony, Nichia to pursue blue laser diode market

Sony Corp. and Nichia Corp., a Japanese developer of blue lasers, have reached a basic agreement to jointly commercialize blue laser diodes by the first quarter next year, they announced Wednesday.

The two companies started a joint blue laser diode development project in June this year. Through Wednesday's tie-up they will strengthen their partnership further and accelerate commercialization by sharing their technologies and patents, they said in a statement.

Blue laser diodes are expected to be a key component for next generation high volume optical discs. Sony, in Tokyo, and Nichia, in Tokushima, Japan, will focus on the development of 405-nanometer high-output blue laser diodes for Blu-ray Disc, one of the next generation optical disc video recording formats to DVD, they said.

The Blu-ray format is backed by nine companies -- Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV, Sony, Hitachi Ltd., LG Electronics Inc., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., Pioneer Electrics Inc., Samsung Co. Ltd., Sharp Corp. and Thomson Multimedia SA -- who started disclosing detailed specifications of the format in June this year.

Blu-ray discs can hold up to 27G bytes of data on one side, or 50G bytes on two sides.

The DVD Forum, a consortium of 212 companies, started work on the specification of a rival high-capacity format, the Advanced Optical Disc (AOD) in November. Its specification is expected to be completed in the second quarter next year.

The AOD, proposed by Toshiba Corp. and NEC Corp., is also based on a 405-nanometer-wavelength blue laser and can store up to 20G bytes of data on one side of a disc.

Each camp is trying to establish the next generation optical disc de facto standard by rushing into the commercialization of a compliant product.

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