Porous GaN startup raises funds for RGB integration

Porous GaN startup raises funds for RGB integration

Business news |
By Peter Clarke

Porotech, spun out of the University of Cambridge in 2018, focuses on the development of wide-bandgap compound GaN semiconductors using such things as etching to create porous GaN with novel optical, mechanical, thermal and electrical properties.

The company raised £1.5 million in 2020 (see Porous GaN developer funded for pilot production).

The latest funding round was led by Speedinvest, with participation from previous investors IQ Capital, Cambridge Enterprise, Martlet Capital and Cambridge Angels.

The emissive nature of LEDs make microLED makes them contenders for displays on smartphones, smartwatches and VR/AR headsets. Through the use of porous technology Porotech has shown InGaN red microLEDs. It also claims it can make green and blue microLEDs on the same substrate. The improved energy-efficiency and brightness over other microLED materials promises to make them bright and efficient enough to meet the requirements of augmented reality.

Porotech was founded in April 2018 by Tongtong Zhu, CEO, and Yingjun Liu, CTO and Professor Rachel Oliver, chief scientific officer, to commercialize work done at the University of Cambridge.

The company said it has been generating revenue for 10 months and is working with major companies involved in display technology. In November 2020, the company launched the world’s first commercial native red indium gallium nitride (InGaN) LED epiwafer for micro-LED applications.

The company said it would expand its porous approach to integrate InGaN-based red, green and blue (RGB) micro-LEDs for full-colour microdisplays – and ultimately create ‘smart’ pixels that can be controlled independently.

Next: The technology and alternatives

Alternative approaches include aluminum indium gallium phosphide (AlInGaP) material and quantum dot colour conversion (QDCC).  AlInGaP struggles at the small pixel sizes required by AR while QDCC suffers from uniformity and stability issues. In addition, both approaches require a mixture of different materials, Porotech said.

“Porous GaN is basically GaN with tiny holes in it that are a few tens of nanometres across,” said Zhu, in a statement. “It’s an entirely new engineered GaN material platform to build semiconductor devices on. It offers performance improvements that are suitable for mass production, scalable in wafer size – and crucial for the next generation of microdisplay devices such as AR glasses.”

Zhu added: “We are already seeing high levels of demand for our standard and customised porous GaN substrates and micro-LED epiwafers, which we can provide on sapphire and silicon platforms ranging from 100mm to 300mm. Smart pixels will be our next development – monolithically generated and integrating native self-emissive RGB micro-LEDs on a single wafer to give smaller, lighter, thinner displays that use less energy and offer the greater accuracy required for things like AR gestures.”

Related links and articles:

News articles:

Porous GaN developer funded for pilot production

Startup microLED display maker boasts 12.3-inch size

First nanowire microLED displays on 300mm wafers

Facebook, not Apple, gets Plessey’s microLEDs

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