2 August 2023
Kubos’ gains £700,000 Innovate UK grant to develop 5%-efficient red micro-LEDs
Micro-LED material technology company Kubos Semiconductors Ltd (which was spun out of the University of Cambridge in 2017) has won a £700,000 Future Economy Investor Partnerships (FEIP) grant from UK government innovation agency Innovate UK. The funding is subject to completing aligned investment led by the Development Bank of Wales. The firm has also been granted its first process technology patents and has received its first customer order.
The grant is for a 24-month project to achieve 5% efficiency for red micro-LEDs by deploying the company’s proprietary KubosLED cubic-phase gallium nitride (GaN) process. Achieving the project’s goal will make micro-LEDs viable in augmented/virtual-reality (AR/VR) applications by approximately doubling the efficiency achieved with other process technologies, it is reckoned. Poor red micro-LED efficiency is currently one of the main factors constraining the AR/VR market.
“We’ve only recently joined the FEIP and Kubos is the first company we have supported, and they have been awarded this grant,” notes Carl Griffiths, technology seed fund manager for DBW. “Kubos has demonstrated it has the right focus on deep tech, the right profile and momentum to secure the funding. Their exciting new technology has a clear purpose, and the market opportunity is vast,” he comments.
Following completion of the funding round in the autumn, Kubos — as a fabless semiconductor company — will open a development office in Wales. This will enable it to continue to benefit from years of collaboration with the South Wales compound semiconductor cluster, specifically the Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC, a partnership between Cardiff University and Cardiff-based epiwafer and substrate maker IQE plc) and the Institute of Compound Semiconductors at Cardiff University, where the Kubos LEDs are processed and tested.
Kubos’ core cubic GaN process and product technology patent has now been granted in China, Japan, Singapore and the USA. Its patent portfolio has also been extended to include granted patents for silicon carbide epitaxy, which is used by Kubos as a growth substrate.
The firm has also won its first customer for its KubosLED material in red micro-LEDs. “We see huge demand for our technology every time we engage with potential customers and are delighted to have won our first major customer and secured further funding to ensure we reach our technology goals,” says CEO Caroline O’Brien. “These achievements underline the fact that KubosLED material technology is the leading contender to clear a major bottleneck that’s been holding back AR/VR adoption.”