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13 February 2017

BluGlass reports half-year financial results and development milestones

In its interim financial report for fiscal first-half 2017 (to end-December 2016), BluGlass Ltd of Silverwater, Australia – which was spun off from the III-nitride department of Macquarie University in 2005 – has reported that revenue fell by $198,367 (13.6%) to $1,260,579. However, this was due to the lack of any government grants (which totalled $192,479 in the prior half year).

The firm's principal activity during the half year was the further development and commercialization of remote-plasma chemical vapor deposition (RPCVD) technology for manufacturing epitaxially grown gallium nitride (GaN) at low temperature on glass substrates. BluGlass is also engaged in research to develop other high-efficiency nitride devices.

Gross expenditure has risen by $106,089 (3.3%), as employee benefits expense rose by 7.7% to $1,352,667 (up from $1,255,294). Patent and trademark expenses more than doubled from $67,270 to $145,688.

Consolidated loss was $2,062,428, up 17.3% from $1,757,972. However, during the half year, net assets rose from $14,236,750 to $20,177,030.

During fiscal first-half 2017, BluGlass achieved a number of key technical and commercial milestones that have brought the firm closer to its commercialization goals.

In September, BluGlass announced that it had commissioned its upgraded RPCVD chamber (the smaller of BluGlass' two RPCVD systems) designed to help address the scalability and uniformity of RPCVD that is required for commercial demonstrations. The upgraded chamber was designed to build on and improve on past performance data as well as create a platform RPCVD design that can be easily scaled to larger deposition areas. Subsequently, at its annual general meeting (AGM) in November, BluGlass was able to show good initial thickness uniformity improvement demonstrated by the new deposition chamber. It has since made further improvements in thickness uniformity to a level that satisfies requirements for industry demonstrations for 2" wafers.

In October, BluGlass said that it had completed the technology demonstration outlined in Phase I of its Exclusive Evaluation Agreement with LED maker Lumileds of San Jose, CA, USA. The two firms are now collaborating on Phase II of the evaluation, where Lumileds will further investigate the integration of BluGlass' RPCVD technology in its LED applications.

Also in October, BluGlass raised AUS$5m in an institutional placement to support its three existing evaluation and collaboration agreements, and to enable it to explore additional strategic industry discussions and opportunities.

Following the AGM in November, George Venardos retired from the board after serving as chairman for the previous six years and, prior to that, as a non-executive director since December 2008. To replace him as chairman, the board appointed Dr William Johnson, who was previously a non‐executive director and was appointed to the board in September 2010. Johnson has extensive experience of business development, mergers & acquisitions (M&A), IP commercialization and hands-on leadership roles in operations ranging from high-tech start-ups to Fortune 500 high technology companies, including as president & CEO of semiconductor processing equipment maker SPTS Technologies.

In November, BluGlass announced a significant order commitment from a new customer worth about $600,000 for specialist epitaxy (foundry) development (to be delivered over a 12-month period). The UK-based customer is developing GaN technology targeting LEDs and other applications. BluGlass has placed additional emphasis on growing its foundry customer business in fiscal 2017. The foundry business continues to introduce BluGlass to new and emerging applications including novel LED, micro-LED, laser diode and power electronic applications.

In November, BluGlass said that it had entered into a formal collaboration agreement with epiwafer foundry and substrate maker IQE plc of Cardiff, Wales, UK to develop specific enabling technology for high-quality nitride films deposited by RPCVD on both silicon wafers and on specially engineered cREO (rare earth oxide)-on-silicon substrates. "BluGlass' world-leading RPCVD technology is highly complementary to IQE's existing technology portfolio, and the collaboration is a key step in overcoming challenges inherent to epi-growth of cutting-edge materials," commented IQE vice president Dr Rodney Pelzel.

In December, BluGlass completed its share purchase plan, which raised AUS$3.1m. This, combined with October's $5m institutional placement, has put BluGlass in a strong financial position to execute its commercialization plans, the firm reckons.

Fiscal second-half 2017

The BLG-180 chamber has demonstrated improvement in thickness uniformity and, based on this design, the new and larger chamber for the BLG-300 was built to improve uniformity and address scaling of RPCVD technology. The new chamber recently arrived at BluGlass and is being prepared for installation.

The BluGlass technology team is finalizing plans for its installation onto the larger RPCVD system, to ensure minimal disruption to BluGlass' partner evaluations, in particular the Lumileds Phase II project. While it continues to make steady progress on Phase II of the Lumileds project, BluGlass anticipates that the new BLG-300 chamber design will help with the technical performance for the Lumileds project beyond simply scaling aspects, and the firm is assessing options for its implementation to assist with Lumileds' milestones and timelines.

Scaling of the BLG-300 is critical for other industry projects such as IQE, Veeco and HC Semitek to progress on commercial-size wafers, says BluGlass.

The firm continues to explore new strategic opportunities, including collaborations, partnerships and expanding its foundry business within the optoelectronic value chain.

As it heads into fiscal second-half 2017, the firm says that it is continuing to make progress towards delivering on its existing industry partnerships. "These discussions and collaborations are in different stages of development, but each one of them has large market potential once fully realised," believes the firm.

See related items:

BluGlass and IQE partner

BluGlass receives foundry order from new UK-based customer

BluGlass announces institutional placement and shareholder share purchase plan

BluGlass and Lumileds move to Phase II of evaluation agreement after completing Phase I

BluGlass installs upgraded RPCVD chamber to improve uniformity of low-temperature process

Tags: BluGlass RPCVD IQE GaN-on-Si templates

Visit: www.bluglass.com.au

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