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EMF hooks up with BluGlass on GaN equipment

Irish epitaxy equipment vendor EMF is to develop components that will feature in the first commercial-scale prototype of a BluGlass reactor for ammonia-free GaN deposition on glass substrates.

BluGlass, the Australian firm that believes glass substrates offer a route to lower-cost GaN LED production, has signed a deal with MOCVD equipment vendor EMF Semiconductor Systems that should help to commercialize the novel technology.

BluGlass says that it has awarded EMF a contract to supply components forming the basis of the first commercial-scale prototype GaN-on-glass reactor.

Ireland-based EMF sells custom MOCVD equipment, and has previously built integrated systems to perform SiC and CdHgTe growth for companies including Northrop Grumman and Selex.

The supply deal was signed shortly after BluGlass management s recent world tour of companies involved in LED manufacturing (see related story) to discuss what they see as the major cost advantages that their ammonia-free process can offer.

CEO David Jordan said, "Using [EMF] equipment and our unique manufacturing process, we will be able for the first time to make commercial quantities of GaN wafers for high-brightness, white LEDs in our new facility in Sydney."

The BluGlass equipment, which will be installed in the next few months, is based on the Australian company s novel processing technique called remote plasma chemical vapor deposition (RPCVD).

Unlike regular MOCVD, the new method uses nitrogen gas rather than ammonia as the source of nitrogen in the compound semiconductor films. The technique also operates at a lower temperature than MOCVD, allowing the use of glass as base substrate and lower production costs.

Jordan told compoundsemiconductor.net recently, "The BluGlass business model is to license the manufacturing technology and process, and to receive a royalty per wafer produced."

"We will therefore combine with an equipment manufacturer and permit them to sell our RPCVD equipment, for which we will receive a license fee. BluGlass will also receive a license fee for the manufacturing process technology."

"We do not intend to become an LED manufacturer, or to become a seller of epiwafers within the LED market."

Jordan added that BluGlass was now in the process of constructing a laboratory and machine shop at its Silverwater site near Sydney. The site will house the company s RPCVD research tool after it is moved from Macquarie University, where the GaN-on-glass technology was initially developed.

With the construction of the commercial prototype soon in progress, the design of a large-area cleanroom for epiwafer production and full device fabrication should be commissioned by the end of this year, says Jordan.

While development of LED chips remains at a relatively early stage, Jordan added that BluGlass has presented technical data to prospective partners that shows the functional quality of the ZnO-buffered glass substrate, the deposited GaN and alloy films, and hetero-junction LED devices.

That data shows low oxygen contamination levels compared with industry standards, and also included X-ray diffraction studies and emission spectra from fabricated double-heterojunction devices.

• BluGlass has also expanded its executive team by hiring Peter Dodd as a non-executive company director. Dodd, a seasoned investment banker, boasts an impressive CV that includes spells as global head of corporate finance for the banking giant ABN AMRO.

He is currently managing director of Access Macquarie, the commercial arm of Sydney s Macquarie University, where the GaN-on-glass technology originated.

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