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Australian GaN-on-glass Spin-off Seeks $4.6m IPO

BluGlass, a spin-out from the III-nitride department at Macquarie University in Australia, is looking to raise money to build a pilot manufacturing plant that will house its low-temperature, low-cost GaN growth process.

BluGlass, a newly-formed Australian company, has launched an initial public offering (IPO) of shares in a bid to commercialize a low-cost method for manufacturing GaN-based light emitters.

Seeking to exploit technology developed by III-nitride growth specialists at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, the company has acquired all the capital in Gallium Enterprises, a firm originally founded to do the same.

The BluGlass management, led by CEO David Jordan, a veteran of the semiconductor and solar cell industries, is looking to raise at least AUS$6 million ($4.6 million) through the sale of 30 million shares.

If successful, it plans to build a pilot manufacturing facility to further develop its low-temperature deposition method, which is claimed to be compatible with glass substrates up to 8 inches in diameter. Cleanroom company M+W Zander has agreed to help design and build the pilot facility, BluGlass adds.

In the company s new prospectus, BluGlass chairman Michael Taverner said, "Macquarie researchers have successfully demonstrated a GaN LED grown at below 700°C." Whether that device was produced on a glass substrate or a more conventional material is not made clear.

The manufacturing method, which is outlined briefly in the same document, describes a vacuum chamber into which nitrogen gas flows via a plasma. Nitrogen atoms react with trimethyl gallium vapor inside the chamber to form a thin GaN film on top of a wafer.

"Process temperatures are 500-700°C, making it compatible with glass, silicon and other low-cost substrates, and so avoiding the use of sapphire or silicon carbide," explains BluGlass.

Because it avoids the use of expensive MOCVD equipment, and could be compatible with such large wafers, the method promises to allow LEDs to be manufactured at a much lower cost than currently, which could open up new markets where cost is a critical issue, such as residential solid-state lighting.

However, extremely stringent material quality benchmarks will need to be hit if the technology is to become commercially viable.

BluGlass claims to have deposited "high-quality" layers of both n-type and p-type GaN, as well as a p-n junction, onto glass. The RMS surface roughness of their material is said to have been reduced from over 10 nm to just 1 nm.

If all goes according to plan, BluGlass is looking to generate revenue in a number of different ways. These include sales of the novel GaN deposition equipment, licensing of its patented manufacturing process, and the sale of GaN-based wafers and/or LEDs.

According to the company, the growth process is also compatible with GaN alloys, as well as InN and AlN materials.

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