After becoming a member of the US CLAWS hub in October 2023, semiconductor developer BluGlass (ASX: BLG) has signed its first contract: a $2.6 million (US$1.775m) contract with North Carolina State University (NCSU) to develop lasers in FY24.
As part of its contract for FY24, BluGlass is working on single-frequency DFB (Distributed-feedback) lasers and progressing with its violet (405nm, i.e. nanometer, 420nm) and blue (450nm) single-mode lasers. If BluGlass secures more core development contracts through the CLAWS program, its efforts could extend to developing single-mode lasers spanning ultra-violet to green, single-frequency DFB lasers and Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs).
BluGlass CEO Jim Haden said, “We are thrilled to have secured our first contract as part of the CLAWS Hub, where we will be collaborating with recognised industry leaders to develop and commercialise next-generation wide-bandgap photonic and optoelectronic devices.”
BluGlass is part of the $59.07 million CLAWS Hub led by NCSU. The contract win represents support for the first year of the US Department of Defense’s $3 billion Microelectronics Commons program, spanning five years. As a member of the CLAWS Hub, BluGlass is an approved supplier for making photonic gallium nitride (GaN) lasers (used in laser pointers and medical equipment, among other things).
The Microelectronics Commons, set up by the US Department of Defense, is a program to boost defence and dual-use technologies. It has been allocated $3 billion from the CHIPS (Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors) and Science Act fund. The CLAWS Hub has seven members, including BluGlass, Coherent, Wolfspeed, General Electric, Adroit Materials, Kyma, and North Carolina A&T State University.
Director of the CLAWS Hub and Distinguished Professor of ECE John Muth said, “Part of the purpose of CLAWS is to accelerate the development of dual-use technologies. BluGlass is an important part of our roadmap to manipulate UV and visible spectrum light on a chip as a photonic integrated circuit. We see the ability to deliver high quality, reliable single frequency DFB lasers as well as blue and violet lasers to the DoD and the research community as important first steps toward a wide variety of commercial applications.”
The Company feels that its partnership with CLAWS could be game-changing over the next five years. Besides the core programs and funding, BluGlass gets to participate in specialist projects through the CLAWS Hub, boosting revenue opportunities.
These high-priority projects are focused on expanded GaN wavelengths, epitaxy (type of crystal growth) and process development, and high-value devices for quantum applications that may be submitted for funding opportunities by the broader Microelectronics Commons.
Haden added, “Our laser development within the CLAWS Hub has the potential to create significant advancements across our target verticals, including materials processing, sensing, quantum applications, and critical defence capabilities. At the same time, our collaboration with NCSU and Microelectronics Commons provides BluGlass with growing revenues and industry profile, specifying us as an approved US commercial manufacturing supplier of GaN laser epitaxy, fabrication, packaging, and testing.”
The Company has also been making strides back home. On November 20, 2023, BluGlass received confirmation from the Australian Taxation Office that it will receive a $7.3 million rebate for R&D activities across Aus and the US in FY23. The rebate marks an 80% increase over last year and cements BluGlass’s progress this year.
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