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4 December 2008


Russian GaN-based LED lighting JV established after OptoGaN acquisition

ONEXIM Group Ltd, the Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant (UOMP) and the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies (RUSNANO) have formed a 50:33:17 joint venture to manufacture gallium nitride-based LED chips, lamps and lighting systems (investing about $34m, $22m and $11.5m, respectively).

The unique chip production technology was created by Vladislav Bougrov and Maxim Odnoblyudov, who were PhD students of Nobel prize winner Zhores Alferov at the Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute in St Petersburg in the 1990s before working at Finland’s Helsinki University of Technology then, in late 2004, founding OptoGaN in Helsinki to develop GaN-based LEDs. OptoGaN used the R&D lab of Micronova’s Centre for Micro and Nanotechnology in Espoo - run jointly by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) - and cooperated with the latter’s Laboratory of Micro and Nanosciences, whose professor Harri Lipsanen developed a growth technique that can reduce the amount of crystal defects that suppress brightness in GaN-based LEDs and lasers. What is claimed to be a record low amount of defects allows devices to work without losing effectiveness at high-density currents, enabling a high brightness-to-price ratio for LED chips. OptoGaN subsequently developed high-brightness LED wafers, chips and manufacturing processes (as well as pilot line and production facilities in Dortmund, Germany).

Picture: Documents establishing the JV were signed by Anatoly Chubais, director general of the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies (RUSNANO), Mikhail Prokhorov, president of ONEXIM Group Ltd and Sergey Maksin, director general of the Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant (UOMP).

Most recently, OptoGaN was acquired by ONEXIM, a private investment fund founded by Mikhail Prokhorov in May 2007. RUSNANO was founded in July 2007 and allocated 130bn rubles ($4.6bn) by the Government of the Russian Federation to implement its policy, develop infrastructure, and establish projects in the sphere of nanotechnology, e.g. by acting as an early-stage co-investor in projects with significant economic or social potential to reduce risks for private investor partners.

The establishment of the new joint venture allows what is described as one of the most promising developments by Russian scientists to return to Russia. Fabrication of the epitaxial heterostructures will be based in St Petersburg’s special economic zone. LED chip, lamp and lighting product assembly will take place in Yekaterinburg, based on UOMP’s lighting products division.

The global LED market is expected to rise at a compound average annual growth rate (CAAGR) of 23% from $4.2bn in 2007 to $12bn in 2012. In particular, the market for LED lighting products is growing at 37% per year. LED lamps already have a 3.5% share of the Russian lighting systems market, it is reckoned. The new JV aims to generate annual revenue of 6000m rubles ($200m) by 2013.

See related item:

OptoGaN raises €5m in funding for its GaN-based LED technology

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