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A Productive Quarter For BluGlass

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Company makes solid progress on laser diodes, outlines commercialisation plans, and announces foundry agreement with European wafer developer

Australian semiconductor developer BluGlass has provided an update on the last three months ended 31 December 2021 (Q2 FY22).

The company says it is continuing to optimise the four key components for reliable laser diodes - epitaxy, metals, facets, and bonds - to solve its reliability challenges and launch its first commercial products in the 405nm, 420nm and 450nm wavelengths.

During the quarter, BluGlass demonstrated significant performance improvements across four laser diode prototypes: the 405nm and 420nm laser diodes in both single-mode and multi-mode devices. These laser diode prototypes are benefitting from improvements with front and back-end manufacturing processes, including improved cleave processes (creating the laser facets) and improved bonding. Efficient thermal mechanical bonds are critical to reliability, to enable heat dissipation away from the device and enabling long-term high performance.

Reliability testing of these prototype devices is ongoing. In parallel, multiple design and development iterations with further improved epitaxy, metals, facets and bonding designs are progressing through BluGlass' manufacturing supply chain. Featuring improvements to metals, AR and HR coatings, bonds and packaging. These iterations are undergoing extensive analysis, including short-loop development cycles, to speed prototyping and validate and refine each component before reliability testing of these improved device designs can commence.

In addition to better performing laser diodes, improvements to BluGlass' manufacturing processes and supply chain are delivering higher manufacturing yields.

Jim Haden, BluGlass president, said: “We have made significant technical progress during the quarter and continue to work towards qualifying the four key elements needed to launch commercial laser diodes with good reliability performance. The strong performance of our latest prototypes is very encouraging, demonstrating that we are progressing towards commercialisation with high quality products to meet our customer expectations. As we continue to iron out downstream production challenges, we are also further improving our laser diode product design, processing, yield and product variations. We are utilising shorter feedback loops with in-line metrics to fast-track iteration testing with our contract manufacturers while qualifying and preparing our supply chain for volume manufacturing.”

Latest laser diode performance data released at Photonics West

In January, BluGlass released the latest performance data for four of its laser diode products at the 2022 SPIE Photonics West conference in San Francisco, USA.

BluGlass showed its 405nm 250mW single-mode, 405nm 1W multi-mode and 420nm 250mW single-mode laser diodes as well as preliminary data for its 420nm 3W multi-mode laser diode (pulsed results), all of which are demonstrating commercial light-output results.

“While reliability testing of our initial product suite is ongoing, feedback from potential customers at Photonics West has been very positive on both our development progress and the underserved market potential. We look forward to progressing these discussions over the coming months, as we launch sample products ahead of commercialisation,” said BluGlass president Jim Haden.

Commercialisation strategy

BluGlass is one of a handful of end-to-end GaN laser diode manufacturers, operating in a market forecast to reach US$2.5 billion by 2025. Within the GaN laser diode market, BluGlass is targeting the industrial, scientific and biotech verticals which spans applications such as industrial cutting and welding, 3D printing, quantum computing and medical diagnostics. These three verticals are expected to account for US$735 million of the broader GaN laser market by 2025. BluGlass' existing epitaxy capacity can currently address a quarter of this market.

In the short-term, BluGlass remains focused on launching its first direct-to-market laser diodes in the in-demand and underserved 405nm, 420nm and 450nm wavelengths. BluGlass aims to increase market share over the long- term by providing the industry's easiest-to-use laser light, offering unique form factors and integrated packages that significantly reduce customer integration costs. BluGlass' proposition solves a key customer challenge as existing large players do not provide flexible form factors, requiring customers to undertake significant customisation and post-purchase packaging. BluGlass will also develop novel laser architectures, including multi- chip modules and its proprietary RPCVD-enhanced lasers, to achieve brighter, higher efficiency and higher power laser light.

Foundry contract

BluGlass has recently commenced MOCVD epitaxy foundry services for a European wafer developer to develop custom power electronics applications. The paid R&D development contract will generate foundry revenue for BluGlass over the next two quarters, commencing January 2022. This contract has the potential to grow to significant revenue and become a commercial manufacturing agreement on the achievement of program milestones and growing customer demand for the power electronic and other applications.

Financials

BluGlass' total expenditure in Q2 FY22 was $2,515k. Research and development expenses, including materials and fabrication costs, accounted for $1,943k while non-R&D related staff costs totalled $190k. Payments to related parties in Q2 FY22 were $99k, comprising Executive Chair and Non-Executive Director fees. Cash at the end of the quarter was $6.246 million.

Outlook

In Q3 FY22, BluGlass will continue to optimise its laser diodes development and solve its reliability challenges ahead of launching the company's first commercial laser diode products. There is significant unmet demand in the market and the Company has confirmed strong customer interest with prospective customers and collaborative partners.

“Our technical priorities are the validation of our laser diode products and supply chain processes ahead of delivering reliable laser diodes to market.

“Longer term, we have a clear growth strategy built around brighter, better performing and easier-to-use laser light. Our differentiated product offering, manufacturing flexibility, and novel device architectures will enable us to not only compete with the large incumbent players but to gain market share. Improvements to our supply chain management are already underway and over time we will bring key operational processes in-house to increase our competitive advantages and reduce reliance on third-party suppliers,” said President Jim Haden.

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