BluGlass (ASX:BLG) business, technology and strategic partners update

Interviews

by Jessica Amir

BluGlass Limited (ASX:BLG) CEO and Managing Director, Giles Bourne, talks about the recent successful project to scale the company's RPCVD equipment as well as provides an update on strategic partners, including the company's partnership to develop High Performance Normally OFF GaN High Electron Mobility Transistors (HMET) and increasing industry interest in the RPCVD technology.


Jessica Amir:
Hi there, I’m Jessica Amir for the Finance News Network. Joining me from BluGlass Limited (ASX:BLG) is CEO and Managing Director, Giles Bourne. Giles, welcome back.

Giles Bourne: Thank you Jessica.

Jessica Amir: You recently announced significant technology progress with your BLG-300. But for those at home, can you tell us what it is and what you’ve achieved?

Giles Bourne: Semi-conductors is all about precision manufacturing. When you’re making materials like LEDs and other high performance optoelectronic devices, you need to make materials, which are very uniform across the wafer. That is absolutely critical. So BluGlass has three tools in our facility. We have two proprietary RPCVD tools – that’s our technology and one tool, which is the industry standard MOCVD, which we use for benchmarking.

So the smaller of those two tools, which we call the BLG-180, we upgraded last year. And the larger tool, the BLG-300, we upgraded and just announced that fairly recently. So it’s got uniform electrical properties, materials that are more uniform across the wafer. So when you’re actually making these high performance devices, you’re getting good devices from all parts of the wafer. And that is critical to introduce the technology to these manufacturing lines.

In addition, the tools that we have in our facility, our ex-production toolsare a few generations old. They’ve made LEDs; they’ve made devices in factories in Taiwan and Korea. But the tools that are being used now in production are larger. So this is a stepping-stone for taking our technology onto larger scale tools that are in production today. So it’s critical we have uniformity across the wafer and that we can show, that we can actually scale-up the tools into a bigger production plant.

Jessica Amir: You recently released your 2017 Annual Report. Now can you tell us more detail about the adoption of your patented technology, the RPCVD?

Giles Bourne: Our work has really been focused on delivering commercial outcomes on our key projects. So we’ve got IQE and Lumileds also working with Veeco Instruments (NASDAQ:VECO) and SEMATECH. So most of the focus of the technology team has really been on the IQE and the Lumileds project, during the course of this year. And that’s been greatly helped by this scaling-up of the BLG-300 tool, I mentioned earlier. That helps drive those projects. Getting better uniformity and larger outsize wafers is going to help with the adoption of that technology, into their manufacturing plants, which is the commercial outcome that we’re looking for. We’ll also do more work with our other collaboration partners and we’re seeing that scaling-up, over the course of the year.

Jessica Amir: Can you tell us how BluGlass is introducing new potential customers and collaborators?

Giles Bourne: Back in 2015, we published some data on our RPCVD technology, which showed some good performance in our technology. That allowed us to engage with some of the major industry collaborations that we have in place. But equally, wehave equipment in our facility, which allows us to do contract manufacturing for people. So we do what is called customer epitaxy, or foundry work. And so we’ve got a number of new customers, who come to us on a fee-for-service, they try out technologies. We’ve got the existing incumbents MOCVD technology and then we try and get them all to the RPCVD technology, to try out certain applications.

And what we’ve found is not only it produces revenue for the business, but it’s actually getting the technology known and tried out, in certain really interesting novel applications. So we see that as being a fairly critical pipeline for us, for future customers, strategic partners, collaborators. So that’s been a key part of business and something we’ll continue to focus on in 2018.

Jessica Amir:Since we last spoke, you started a collaboration with Griffith University to develop a new transistor. Can you tell us about that?

Giles Bourne: BluGlass has been working with Griffith University for a number of years. And we’ve now put in place a formal arrangement between Griffith University, BluGlass and the IMCRC (Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre) to co-fund the project. Really to look at developing a transistor or high electron mobility transistor, applying the RPCVD technology. Out of this development, we expect to generate some really interesting IP and a new application. So this’ll run for a number of years, but it’s really drawing the expertise of BluGlass, of Griffith University and the IMCRC. Essentially, it’s like having another arm to our research.

Jessica Amir: Last question now Giles before we let you go. How is FY18 shaping up?

Giles Bourne: We see 2018 as being a pretty exciting year for BluGlass. This is the year that we transition the technology programs with Lumileds and IQE, into commercial outcomes. And also, we’d like to think during the course of 2018, we’d bring in more strategic partners to work on our technology programs. There’s been a lot of inbound interest to BluGlass, looking at our technology. We have limited resources, so we’re constantly evaluating whom we can work with and where we think the best commercial outcome is. But we would like to think that during the course of this year, we’d have other major strategic partners working with BluGlass. So we think it’s a pretty exciting time in terms of rolling out the technology, into multiple applications.

Jessica Amir: Very exciting indeed, thanks so much for the update Giles Bourne.

Giles Bourne: Thank you.


Ends

Jessica Amir

Finance News Network
Jessica is a senior finance journalist and presents the Market Outlook, Market at Midday and Market Wrap. She also presents ASX company news and interviews CEOs. She joined FNN in January 2017 with six years of broadcast journalism experience. She worked as a journalist and producer with Sky News Business, ABC 1, ABC's The Business and ABC24. She also worked in regional Australia for Prime 7 and WIN News as a TV reporter. In her prior life she worked as a financial planner.