News Article

BluGlass Details Cost Savings Of New GaN Process

Modeling by an independent firm suggests that using remote plasma CVD to deposit GaN LED structures on glass substrates will cut epiwafer production costs by 48 percent and the cost of individual LEDs by 10 percent.

Management consultants say that the new GaN deposition technique developed by the Australian company BluGlass could cut the cost of LED epiwafer production by 48 percent.

Commissioned by BluGlass, the report by Wright, Williams & Kelly (WWK) compared the cost of 21x2 inch epiwafer production using conventional MOCVD with BluGlass s remote plasma CVD (RPCVD) approach.

Because RPCVD uses nitrogen instead of ammonia, and a glass substrate in place of sapphire, the major impact of a switch would be a 70 percent reduction of materials and consumables expenses.

RPCVD also works at a lower temperature than MOCVD, meaning that over a seven-year life cycle, operating costs would be cut by $8 million.

At the chip level, the costs savings would be less significant, however. Assuming identical back-end processing costs for both GaN-on-sapphire and GaN-on-glass epiwafers, WWK's model suggests that RPCVD-manufactured chips would be 10 percent cheaper than conventional blue LEDs.

BluGlass CEO David Jordan has just been on a world tour to present details of the RPCVD manufacturing approach to various companies in the LED business, and says that the response was "very encouraging".

The Macquarie University spin-out is yet to reveal much technical detail about its epiwafer material quality or LED operating characteristics, although it does claim to have produced thin films with a surface roughness of just 1 nm (see interview feature) and observed "short-lived" emission from a GaN device.

While the cost-reduction potential of RPCVD cannot be doubted, BluGlass will now need to prove that its novel process is able to generate high-quality material and highly-efficient light emitters that are able to compete with the best commercial LEDs now being manufactured using conventional techniques.

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