AES Semigas


25 July 2023

BluGlass’ highlights new GaN laser orders for quantum sensing and surgical applications, and improvements to DFB lasers

BluGlass Ltd of Silverwater, Australia — which develops and manufactures gallium nitride (GaN) blue laser diodes based on its proprietary low-temperature, low-hydrogen remote-plasma chemical vapor deposition (RPCVD) technology — has provided an update on activities in its fiscal fourth-quarter 2023 (to end-June).

Enhanced GaN lasers showcased

At the Laser World of Photonics conference in Munich, Germany at the end of June, BluGlass presented enhanced performance data for its GaN lasers. Since the launch of its first laser products in January, BluGlass has significantly improved light emission, power conversion efficiencies and voltage across its violet (405nm and 420nm) and blue (450nm) wavelengths. The 450nm lasers saw the largest improvement, with power conversion efficiencies for single-mode and multi-mode devices up by more than 55% and 42%, respectively. Enhancements broaden target applications to include quantum computing, robotics and biotechnology.

In addition to improving existing products, BluGlass has expanded its GaN laser portfolio, introducing an ultraviolet 397nm alpha prototype. UV lasers offer increased power and precision and are used in applications such as disinfection technologies, quantum sensing and medical devices. Higher-power single-mode 405nm and 420nm devices are in development, along with single-mode and multi-mode 450nm and longer-wavelength devices spanning 470nm, 488nm and 525nm.

“Industry conferences are key to securing new customer orders, increasing awareness of our growing GaN laser portfolio, flexible packaging solutions, and custom manufacturing capability. We continue to engage with potential customers and partners across our target verticals (quantum, biotech, display (AR/VR), industrial, defence and R&D),” says CEO Jim Haden. “These higher-performing devices enable use in more demanding applications while meeting customer needs for wavelength and form-factor flexibility,” he adds. “Discussions with these companies are progressing, and we expect many of these will convert to sales, supported by increased adoption of GaN lasers in advanced applications.”

New customer orders

During the quarter, BluGlass continued to grow its customer book, securing new purchase orders from a quantum photonics pioneer and a leading medical device manufacturer. Customer orders now encompass BluGlass’ entire GaN laser product suite, now being tested for eventual deployment in various applications including novel quantum sensing, machine vision, 3D printing, and surgical applications. BluGlass expects to secure new orders this quarter to be shipped in line with industry-standard 8–12-week shipping timeframes.

“Customers continue to test, integrate and qualify BluGlass’ lasers in their own product development and applications. These steps pave the way to securing larger, recurring orders. We are engaged with multiple customers and are working diligently to convert these to long-term agreements while engaging with additional prospective customers and partners,” says Haden.

“We are receiving positive feedback on our laser performance from our collaborative customers, who have been impressed by our momentum, fuelled by both continuous and breakthrough design enhancements. Their valuable feedback is guiding our efforts to improve aspects of our fabrication and packaging to better meet their specific product needs. Progressing agreements from initial discussions through to qualification and full-scale manufacturing often takes multiple months, and sometimes even years for novel, advanced and high-power applications, but early engagement is necessary to become ‘designed-in’ in our customers’ products,” he adds.

“Vertical integration further supports qualification and adoption of our GaN lasers, enabling us to provide wavelength and form-factor flexibility with emphasis on quality, consistency and performance.”

Vertical integration nearing completion

During the quarter, BluGlass transferred core downstream manufacturing processes from four contract manufacturers to its Silicon Valley production facility in Fremont, CA, USA. The firm is now in the final stages of integrating its remaining contract manufacturer, responsible for thinning, cleaving and n-metalization processes.

While creating a new manufacturing supply chain is complex, BluGlass says that it has transitioned most core processes to Fremont. A few production and repeatability challenges in parts of the fabrication process temporarily impacted availability of the firm’s GaN lasers during the quarter. These challenges, which impacted laser consistency, were related to photolithography processes, metalization, and packaging processes for non-TO Can packages.

Manufacturing equipment component unavailability at Fremont resulted in stepper photolithography equipment for single-mode products being offline for an extended period during the quarter. The stepper is back online and preventative measures have now been implemented, including stockpiling spare parts, and securing specialist servicing and maintenance suppliers. New manufacturing processes, including secondary qualification and uniformity calibration, have significantly reduced variability in photolithography steps.

BluGlass is also working with its partners and suppliers to address bonding inconsistencies. Wafers manufactured with improved packaging designs and operational controls will be available in mid-September.

“While it is common to experience some challenges in vertically integrating manufacturing processes, and converting to a new material class, we have quickly identified and rectified issues as they have arisen. New manufacturing processes and enhanced operational controls are reducing variability, and we are now implementing iterative improvements to enhance the repeatability and performance of our GaN lasers,” notes Haden. “As we continue to refine our manufacturing supply chain, we are implementing standard cavity lengths and product runs to further enhance consistency and product availability. We have invested in additional engineering team members at Fremont to support these improvement and subsequent mitigation efforts, and have ordered commercial reliability equipment to scale our testing capability and delivery of products to customers,” he adds.

“Vertical integration provides enormous technical and commercial benefits in both the short and long term for BluGlass, improving quality and performance of our launched lasers while accelerating learning cycles and development of new and next-generation products,” Haden believes. “Operational control and manufacturing capability is also critical to establishing ourselves as a partner-of-choice and addressing key customer challenges, such as packaging flexibility and greater GaN laser availability.”

Improvements to DFB laser demonstration

BluGlass progressed its development of visible GaN distributed feedback (DFB) lasers, demonstrating substantial performance improvements with collaboration partner University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). In its latest DFB development, BluGlass demonstrated increased side-mode suppression ratio by more than 50%, delivering advanced single-frequency performance at 450nm, and using its proprietary RPCVD technology extended to longer-wavelength blue devices up to 478nm.

Visible DFB lasers are not commercially available. However, there is growing need for this highly promising laser technology to provide narrow spectral width and high spectral purity in more compact form factors in order to facilitate advanced quantum applications.

Gallium export restrictions

In July, China announced that it will impose new export restrictions on gallium nitride, commencing 1 August. BluGlass has been in contact with its primary gallium suppliers, who have indicated no short-term impact to supply. The firm says it is monitoring the situation closely with its suppliers and will update the market should there be any material change.


Customer revenue for fiscal Q4/2023 was $209,000; comprised primarily of foundry services for a European wafer developer and initial payments for laser product orders. Cash at end of June was $4.26m, before receipt of the firm’s significant fiscal-year 2023 R&D rebates, totalling ~$7m and expected to be received in September. This significant cash injection, combined with expected business operations, will provide an extended cash runway, says the firm.

Inclusive of salaries, materials and fabrication costs, R&D expenses were $3.189m (comprising $3.137m for laser diode product development and $0.052m for RPCVD development). These costs reflect additional resources at the Silicon Valley fab as BluGlass vertically integrates core manufacturing processes while exiting contract manufacturers.

Payments to related parties in fiscal Q4 were $163,000, comprising chair and non-executive director fees.


BluGlass says that it enters fiscal 2024 fully focused on delivering against its product and commercialization roadmaps, improving yield and performance, qualifying products in customer applications, onboarding additional customers, and securing larger purchase orders of its GaN lasers. At the same time, the business will complete integration of its external wafer fab contract manufacturers into its Silicon Valley fab and establish regional distribution agreements in key laser jurisdictions including Europe and the USA.

“While our priority remains validating our product performance and qualifying BluGlass lasers in customer applications, we are also progressing the development of higher-powered lasers in our core wavelengths (405-450nm) and next-generation products. Ongoing manufacturing refinements will continue to enhance laser performance and yield, enabling us to bring better-quality lasers to market much faster. Our discussions with potential customers have highlighted the genuine need for an agile manufacturing partner to address unmet market needs and deliver brighter, better-performing and longer-wavelength devices,” says Haden.

“We are also leveraging our RPCVD technology to bring to market novel solutions with collaboration partners. These include our development of green GaN vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers with Ganvix and visible DFB lasers with UCSB. These solutions are not commercially available, enabling us to further differentiate ourselves in the GaN laser market,” he adds.

“Specializing in visible lasers with packaging and manufacturing flexibility, BluGlass’ market position is unique,” reckons Haden. “Our recent customer engagement continues to confirm the growing need for an agile and dedicated provider in this market, and the increasing importance of visible laser diodes to enable future technologies. Our product strategy remains focused on solving customers’ challenges and being a GaN laser partner-of-choice.”

See related items:

BluGlass showcasing enhanced GaN laser products at Laser World of Photonics

BluGlass secures GaN laser purchase orders for testing in quantum sensing and surgical applications

Tags: BluGlass RPCVD


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