29 Nov 2010
St Petersburg production facility represents first major LED fab in Eastern Europe.
Optogan, the Russian LED manufacturer, has formally opened its new 15,000 m2 production facility. With an initial annual capacity of 360 million chips, the St Petersburg fab represents the first major LED production site in Eastern Europe, and is one of only a few LED fabs to have been built outside of Asia in recent years.
Sergey Ivanov, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, unveiled the new plant in a ceremony on November 29, following an investment of 3.35 billion rubles (€80 million) in the company. One of the major Optogan investors is Rusnano, Russia’s technology investment fund. Rusnano is having an increasing impact on the photonics industry, having recently acquired a significant chunk of IRE-Polus, the Russian subsidiary of the fiber laser specialist IPG Photonics.
Optogan CEO Maxim Odnoblyudov sees the opening of the new fab as a key step in the development of the company that he co-founded in Finland with Vladislav Bougrov and Alexey Kovsh back in 2004, explaining that the initial manufacturing capacity was merely the start of a major production ramp:
“At the end of next year, we will grow the production volume due to the high demand for our products,” Odnoblyudov said. “LEDs produced in St Petersburg will be sold in Russia and abroad. We’ve already signed our first major contracts.”
To add to its existing capacity, Optogan is set to take delivery of two high-volume semiconductor deposition tools from leading equipment supplier Aixtron before the end of this year. Those tools will be used to deposit high-quality films of gallium nitride onto sapphire substrates, with Optogan saying that its devices deliver good performance at high current densities – one of the critical technological issues facing the solid-state lighting based on LED chips. The CRIUS II metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) tools that are on order from Aixtron are among the highest-capacity tools available for LED production, and will enable Optogan to significantly extend production volumes.
Optogan’s chips are set to be used by what Odnoblyudov describes as an extensive network of partner companies based across Russia to produce LED-based luminaires. In the future, the company is aiming to extend this model globally.
The establishment of a major device fab in St Petersburg has its roots in the early work of the Russian Nobel laureate Zhores Alferov, who was a pioneer of semiconductor photonics at the Ioffe Physical Technical Institute in the same city. “Technology based on the work of Alferov has already been transformed into mass production, making this a first step in the development of a new energy-efficient economy, and development of the lighting industry in Russia,” noted Rusnano’s general director, Anatoly Chubais.
Optogan’s other major shareholder is the ONEXIM Group, one of Russia’s largest private investment funds, with a focus on mining and real estate, as well as nanotechnology.
Optogan isn’t the only new company with Scandinavian roots to target the LED sector currently. The Swedish start-up Glo recently closed a $25 million investment to commercialize its nanowire-based LED chips, and is understood to be in the process of setting up a production facility in California.