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The main reason that I was first attracted to Cree as an investor is that they are the clear leader in production and manipulation of a unique (and difficult) material, SiC. We see some of the potential value of SiC, in LEDs, and as a material for niche electronics applications, which is fine for now.

But since SiC is such an unusual material, there is always the possibility that some new and unexpected SiC application is going to come along, perhaps making Cree more valuable than just LEDs, lighting, and power electronics.

Graphene is another unique material that is showing promise for a wide variety of applications. It also has unique mechanical and electrical qualities. Such as storing data within single molecules:

Interestingly, crystalline SiC is an important component in the major graphene production processes, and graphene grown on SiC has unique properties. From the graphene wiki page:

Another method of obtaining graphene is to heat silicon carbide (SiC) to high temperatures (>1,100 °C) under low pressures (~10-6 torr) to reduce it to graphene. This process produces epitaxial graphene with dimensions dependent upon the size of the SiC substrate (wafer). The face of the SiC used for graphene formation, silicon- or carbon-terminated, highly influences the thickness, mobility and carrier density of the graphene.

Many important graphene properties have been identified in graphene produced by this method. For example, the electronic band-structure (so-called Dirac cone structure) has been first visualized in this material. Weak anti-localization is observed in this material and not in exfoliated graphene produced by the pencil-trace method.[39] Extremely large, temperature-independent mobilities have been observed in SiC-epitaxial graphene. They approach those in exfoliated graphene placed on silicon oxide but still much lower than mobilities in suspended graphene produced by the drawing method. It was recently shown that even without being transferred, graphene on SiC exhibits the properties of massless Dirac fermions such as the anomalous quantum Hall effect."

And this is interesting:

"the price of epitaxial graphene on SiC is dominated by the substrate price, which is approximately $100/cm2 as of 2009"

I have no idea if SiC demand for graphene production is likely to have any impact on Cree's business, but if anything, I think it would be positive. I plan to keep an eye on this.


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