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27 March 2013

CEA-LETI spin-off Aledia makes its first LEDs on 8-inch silicon wafers using microwire technology

Aledia S.A. of Grenoble, France, which develops LEDs based on microwire GaN-on-silicon technology, has made its first LEDs on 8-inch (200mm) silicon wafers. The firm says that the cost of its 3D LED chips based on microwires is expected to be four times less than traditional planar (2D) LEDs. Aledia also announced that its first-round financing (which was closed in 2012) raised a total of €10m (about $13m) from US and European investors.

Aledia says that the continued integration of LEDs into new applications (such as general lighting) depends on LEDs becoming available at substantially lower prices than today. The firm reckons that its microwire technology - fabricated on large-size silicon wafers and with low materials cost - can enable the steep cost reduction that is vital for the further transition to LEDs. The new LED technology is also compatible with silicon CMOS technology and can be manufactured directly in existing high-volume silicon foundries, the firm adds.

Aledia’s 3D GaN-on-silicon microwire technology was developed over a six year period at CEA-LETI in Grenoble. As part of its spin-out from CEA, Aledia received exclusive worldwide rights to all present and future CEA patents on microwire technology as applied to the area of lighting. Several additional patents have already been filed directly by Aledia.

“Since our financing last year, we have scaled up our microwire manufacturing process and transferred it to 8-inch (200mm) silicon wafers,” says co-founder, president & CEO Giorgio Anania. “We can now push forward to optimize the performance of these products and bring them to market.”

Anania was previously CEO of Bookham (now Oclaro, the second-largest manufacturer of optical components for telecoms networks), which he joined when it had 30 people and zero sales. He left the firm nine years later, having brought it to $250m in sales, 2700 in staff, and public offerings on both the LSE and NASDAQ stock markets. At Aledia, he is joined by chief operating officer Xavier Hugon and chief technology officer Philippe Gilet (both co-founders of Aledia and former CEA employees).

Investors in Aledia’s first-round financing include Sofinnova Partners (a European venture capital fund and an active investor in energy); New-York based Braemar Energy Ventures (a US energy technology investor with investments in the LED and illumination sectors); Demeter Partners (the largest France-based cleantech investor); and CEA Investissement (the venture capital arm of CEA, France’s Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives).

“Braemar is committed to investing in companies like Aledia that have developed a breakthrough approach to LED lighting to accommodate a rapidly changing market,” says Braemar Energy Ventures’ partner Jiong Ma, who looks forward to the expansion of Aledia’s market presence and product offerings. 

Tags: Leti



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