BluGlass claims Defence & Dual-Use Tech Award

Stuart Mason

New South Wales-based manufacturer BluGlass has won the InnovationAus 2023 Award for Excellence in Defence, Dual-Use and Space for its groundbreaking semiconductor development that’s been decades in the making.

The InnovationAus 2023 Awards for Excellence were presented on Wednesday night at a black-tie gala dinner at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney.

The Defence, Dual-Use and Space Award was sponsored by Australian quantum computing pioneer Q-CTRL. The award was presented on the night by Q-CTRL founder and CEO Professor Michael Biercuk.

The category celebrated companies pioneering innovative technologies with uses in the Defence sector and across the broader economy.

The Defence sector has long been a driving force in tech and innovation, and these creations can often be transferred for commercial use too.

The BluGlass team feat. chief scientist Dr Cathy Foley

The push for homegrown manufacturing in Defence and space was accelerated by the pandemic, which led to a renewed focus on sovereign capability in these areas. And there has never been more opportunity and funding on offer for local companies in these sectors, with the recent AUKUS agreement and further defence agreements with the US.

“What we have learned many of the western countries in the world want to rebuild a semiconductor industry,” BluGlass chair James Walker said.

“In Australia’s case it is build a semiconductor industry.

“We play in that space. We’re a semiconductor company. We’re not making chips, but we are making lasers. We are one of the few laser diode manufacturers in the world, and we happen to be based here.”

The Labor government recently launched the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator, dubbed the “missing link” between Defence and industry. Nearly $3.5 billion has been allocated to the accelerator over the coming decade.

BluGlass took out the Award for its development and commercialisation of a semiconductor manufacturing technology known as Remote Plasma Chemical Vapour Deposition (RPCVD). This method has a number of advantages over existing gallium nitride semiconductors, and has applications across the Defence, quantum and biotech markets.

Only four companies in the world manufacture gallium nitride laser diodes, and BluGlass is the only one in Australia,” Mr Walker said.

The R&D was spun out of Macquarie University in 2005 with the acquisition of three patents which were based on 10 years of research.

The team spent the next decade further developing this technology and transitioning into a commercialisation phase.

“We feel we are uniquely placed because of our history within the university many years ago,” Mr Walker said.

Last year, the company acquired a laser diode manufacturing fabrication facility in Silicon Valley, while its head office is in Silverwater, New South Wales.

BluGlass’s semiconductors have a lower resistivity and higher efficiency, and can be made with custom wavelengths and flexible form factors.

The other finalists in the Defence, Dual-Use Technology and Space category were Diraq, DroneShield, Hypersonix Launch Systems and QuantX Labs.

The InnovationAus 2023 Awards for Excellence are proudly supported by Investment NSW, AusIndustry, Australian Computer Society, Technology Council of Australia, Agile Digital, CSIRO, TechnologyOne, IP Australia, METS Ignited and Q-CTRL.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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