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3 February 2016

University of Sheffield spin-off Stratium raises £300,000 from IP Group and Finance Wales

Stratium Ltd of Cardiff, Wales, UK has announced more than £300,000 of seed capital investment from IP Group and Finance Wales. The new funding allows the firm to enter the market for single-emitter quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) for 2.8-12µm wavelengths with the launch of its first product, Bruar, a 50mW (peak power) pulsed mid-infrared QCL chip-on-sub-mount – emitting at wavelenths of 2.8 µm, 3.3 µm or 10µm in room-temperature operation – for gas sensing and environmental monitoring applications. In addition, a new 100mW (peak) pulsed Bruar QCL chip-on-sub-mount is being exhibited by Stratium in booth 5135 at the SPIE Photonics West 2016 event in San Francisco (16-18 February).

Stratium was formed in July 2015 on the basis of collaborative semiconductor laser research and innovation between the University of Sheffield's departments of Physics and Astronomy and Electronic and Electrical Engineering. Capabilities include both molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) and metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) as well as device fabrication, with the ability to produce bespoke 2" QCL epiwafers. It also has device fabrication technologies for producing custom optoelectronic devices. Stratium's particular expertise is in producing short‐wavelength QCLs with record performance demonstrated in the 3.3‐3.7μm wavelength range. 

However, Stratium is strategically located in Cardiff, Wales, due to the strong business support network in the region and the increasing activity in the commercialization of compound semiconductor technology in and around Cardiff.

In January it was announced that the UK Government/Treasury would make a £50m investment to create the UK's first compound semiconductor R&D Catapult Centre, based in Cardiff, aiming to bring together entrepreneurs, engineers and scientists with state-of-the-art facilities to create new products and services. It is reckoned that, due to its existing relationships and location, Stratium is positioned to engage with the UK's top R&D centers to enhance its capabilities and create new highly skilled jobs.

Stratium's QCL products allow the detection and analysis of trace gases, in the parts-per-million (ppm) to parts-per-trillion (ppt) range. As most molecules have their fundamental rotational-vibrational absorption bands in the mid-IR region of the spectrum, a significant number of applications are available for laser sources emitting in this important wavelength range, says the firm.

"There are increasing opportunities for the adoption of quantum cascade laser technologies across several market sectors," notes Stratium's commercial director Phillip Cornish. As well as gas sensing and environmental monitoring, other applications include vehicle collision avoidance, breath diagnostics, vehicle emmisions monitoring, petrochemical process monitoring and marine ship emissions monitoring. "With committed investors, Stratium is well placed to fulfil the need for QCLs with industrial-grade performance and reliability," he reckons. 

"This initial investment round will significantly help to optimize Stratium's QCL material growth, fabrication, test and characterization capabilities and will allow us to focus on our planned program of research and development to enhance our QCL product and intellectual property portfolio,"  says technical director Kenneth Kennedy.

"It is fantastic to see innovation and research, which started here at the university, leading to the launch of a product capable of having such a positive impact in a number of industries," comments Sarah Fulton, the University of Sheffield's director of research & innovation services.  

"Finance Wales is pleased to co-invest with IP Group to back Stratium as its launches Bruar," states investment executive Ann Casey in Finance Wales' tech ventures team. "It's an important milestone for the company and also our first co-investment from the Wales Technology Seed Fund. Quantum cascade lasers are an emerging technology with significant potential, and Stratium's Bruar chip is an excellent example of how they're increasingly being used in a wide range of everyday technological applications," she adds. "Our investment will also enable Stratium undertake further research and development, scale up its technology and target new markets."

Tags: QCL

Visit: www.stratium.co.uk

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