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NS Nanotech awarded $1M to develop tiny LEDs and lasers


Collaboration with McGill University will help grow company's Canadian R&D operations

Nanotech Canada has been awarded a two-year Alliance Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for research into the development of nanoscale LEDs and lasers.

NSERC and NS Nanotech have committed a total of $1 million (CAD) in funding and in-kind contributions. The company co-applied for the grant with McGill University professor Songrui Zhao.

NS Nanotech scientists are collaborating with researchers in Zhao’s laboratory in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at McGill to fabricate a new generation of nanoscale GaN LEDs. Zhao holds many patents and hopes advance the state of the art in MBE and other technologies designed to enable orders-of-magnitude improvements in costs and efficiency over today’s LEDs.

In the summer of 2023, researchers at McGill and NS Nanotech Canada successfully used a standard deep ultraviolet (DUV) optical lithography process on a 4-inch wafter (pictured above left) to create a patterned mask (centre), enabling uniform growth of submicron-scale GaN nanowires on an optically patterned substrate for the first time.

“We appreciate this substantial support from the Canadian government for the groundbreaking work initiated by Prof. Zhao and McGill University in the fast-moving worlds of nanotechnology, LEDs, and lasers,” said Seth Coe-Sullivan, CEO and co-founder of NS Nanotech. “Together we are on a mission to develop the world’s first efficient sub-micron-scale nanoLEDs that will have the potential to disrupt the $120-billion global display market.”

NS Nanotech Canada’s recently established R&D Centre is building on exclusive licenses to a portfolio of patents owned by the University of Michigan and McGill University to develop efficient sub-micron-scale nanoLEDs and nano-lasers.

They hope that commercialisation of the lab's technologies will help enable next-generation displays for televisions, mobile phones, smart watches, augmented-reality glasses, and other applications including disinfection with ultraviolet light.

“Our collaboration with NS Nanotech’s R&D Centre is accelerating our laboratory work developing an entirely new way of creating light-emitting diodes through growth of nanostructures on semiconductor materials,” said Zhao. “The NSERC Alliance Grant will help enable additional breakthroughs that our combined team expects to deliver over the next two years.”

The NSERC Alliance Grant is the latest milestone in the joint R&D program. Students from Zhao’s laboratory have been collaborating with NS Nanotech scientists since early 2023 following incorporation of NS Nanotech Canada. In March, NS Nanotech received matching funding from McGill University’s I&P Partnership Program to support its work with scientists in Zhao’s laboratory. And in September, NS Nanotech Canada opened its first office adjacent to the McGill campus.

“McGill University and Montreal are emerging as important centres of advanced high-technology research, development, and commercialisation” said NS Nanotech Canada's COO Derrick Wong. “Academic-industrial collaborations like ours will be an important means of ensuring that groundbreaking semiconductor technologies move successfully ‘from lab-to-fab’ and into commercial markets.”

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