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24 June, 2022 - 21:01 By Tony Quested

Porotech hiring for fresh spurt of global growth

It’s been a terrific start to 2022 for Cambridge microdisplay technology pioneer Porotech, which stands on the cusp of global greatness.

A recent large funding round underpins further international scale-up in a massive market – and the company is initiating some shrewd strategic alliances.

Business Weekly reported in February that an unnamed but highly influential multinational electronics company was among the backers for a landmark $20 million Series A round for Porotech.

The money will fast-track mass production of the company’s unique micro-LED products as it exploits a $140 billion display market. The round, led by Ameba Capital and including previous backer Speedinvest, is designed to ensure that the company keeps pace with growing demand from its world-leading customers and partners.

Porotech says it has redefined what is possible by creating a new class of porous gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor material called PoroGaN®.

The breakthrough is enabling the company’s micro-LED products to deliver monochrome and full-colour displays on a single indium gallium nitride (InGaN) material system, with the brightness, efficiency and resolution required for high-quality image projection against bright backgrounds – even outdoors in daylight.  

The company recently unlocked a world first in micro-LED Dynamic Pixel Tuning innovation. The long-awaited fully tuneable colour on a single pixel achieved a new industry milestone and was selected by a committee of global display industry professionals as the winner of the Innovation Zone Award – Best Prototype Category at 2022 Display Week in San Jose, California. 

The DynamicPixelTuning™ technology, powered by the PoroGaN® microdisplay platform, makes it possible to create full-colour or tuneable-colour displays using identical pixels from a single wafer, eliminating complex fabrication processes.

Moving forward, Porotech is leveraging its expertise in microdisplay system platforms, driver ICs, optical, electrical and software engineering as it works with global technology brands to develop display products and supply chain processes. The goal is to fast-track micro-LED display solutions from prototypes to mass production. 

Micro-LED displays will play a vital role in the next generation of TVs, wearables and smartphones. And GaN-based material technology is widely seen as the only technology that can deliver displays bright and efficient enough to meet the requirements of extended reality displays involving virtual reality, augmented reality and/or mixed reality. 

Until now, the requirement to mix multiple material systems has complicated the manufacture of full-colour micro-LED displays – making the final products prohibitively expensive for mass-market applications.

Porotech’s use of a single material system is a significant leap forward that opens the door to mass manufacturing of micro-LED displays. CEO and co-founder Dr Tongtong Zhu said: “Porotech’s progress during its seed phase has been absolutely staggering – both technically and commercially.

“We have delivered the world’s first InGaN-based red micro-LEDs and displays and have set up production of our first products – shipping to some of the biggest global names in display technology.

“This latest funding will accelerate our work to ensure that PoroGaN drives the commercialisation of XR glasses and the new wave of user interface innovation.”

Porotech’s thought leader status in the space was reinforced in May through a strategic partnership with AIM-quoted IQE plc.

IQE will play a key role as Porotech’s epitaxial wafer foundry partner, providing GaN MOCVD capacity for the volume production of Porotech’s PoroGaN® microdisplay technology platforms.Together, the companies will develop and productionise 200mm manufacturing platforms as well as 300mm wafer formats.

Dr Zhu said: “IQE’s deep heritage and innovation in MOCVD epitaxial growth technologies, as well as its mass production capability, are optimised for very small high-brightness micro-LED pixels that match perfectly with Porotech’s platform. We look forward to working together to commercialise this solution.”

IQE chief executive Americo Lemos, said the partnership marked IQE’s entrance into the micro-LED market with a unique platform.

“As we stated in March, we believe the micro-LED market presents a significant opportunity for our business,” said Lemos.

“IQE’s proven heritage in GaN epitaxy and our industry-leading footprint in high volume wafer manufacturing combined with Porotech’s PoroGaN® microdisplay technology platform, will create a compelling and differentiated product offering.”

Porotech perfectly meets the requirements for a Business Weekly Killer50 business – highly capable and differentiated globally in terms of its technology and restless for continuous progress.

It has always been international in terms of outlook. Headquartered in Cambridge it also has offices in Hsinchu (Taiwan) and Chandler, Arizona in the US where computer chip manufacturer Intel has four operations.

Porotech is hiring. You can discover more about  the business and the career opportunities at www.porotech.com

• PHOTOGRAPH: Porotech CEO and co-founder Dr Tongtong Zhu with a PoroGaN template. Images courtesy of Porotech.

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