UK startup raises £3m for RGB GaN microLED production
Porotech, spun out of the University of Cambridge in 2018, focuses on the development of wide-bandgap compound GaN microLED devices built with etching to create porous GaN with novel optical, mechanical, thermal and electrical properties.
The company raised £1.5 million in 2020 and the latest funding round was led by Speedinvest, with participation from previous investors IQ Capital, Cambridge Enterprise, Martlet Capital and Cambridge Angels.
Using porous technology, Porotech has shown InGaN red emissive microLEDs that can be used in applications such as AR and VR. 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.
“Porous GaN is basically GaN with tiny holes in it that are a few tens of nanometres across,” said Zhu. “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.”
He said the company 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.
“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,” he said.
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