Quantum-dot laser company gets Series C funding

DORTMUND, GERMANY and SANTA CLARA, CA—Innolume, a provider of quantum dot (QD) laser diodes and modules, secured a Series C round of financing for $12.

DORTMUND, GERMANY and SANTA CLARA, CA—Innolume, a provider of quantum dot (QD) laser diodes and modules, secured a Series C round of financing for $12.65 million to enhance production capabilities and marketing activities for their unique quantum-dot laser products for telecommunications, industrial, and medical applications, as well as to further develop its comb laser and related photonic integrated circuit technology. The funding round was led by S-Group Capital Management (SGCM) Limited, and joined by existing investors North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) Bank, Peppermint Financial Partners, S-VentureCapital Dortmund, Robert A. Young, and Juergen Kurb. Applied Ventures, LLC joined as a new investor.

Innolume’s quantum-dot laser technology covers the near-infrared wavelength range between 1000 and 1320 nm, beyond the conventional range of semiconductor lasers. The infrared part of the spectrum is of great interest in telecommunications, as well as in medical lasers, direct materials processing, and in frequency-doubling technology used in displays and projection systems. Compared to existing semiconductor lasers for telecom wavelengths, quantum dots offer precise wavelength control and high power efficiency at the same low cost that wafer fab processing enables. Among Innolume’s QD products are epitaxial wafers, high-power lasers, gain chips, light-emitting diodes, single- and multimode laser bars, and semiconductor optical amplifiers.

The comb source, introduced in March 2008, is a single Fabry-Perot laser diode that provides hundreds of stable lasing lines for wavelength-division-multiplexing (WDM) optical interconnects in computer applications. It can reach power levels greater than 1 mW/channel over 100 channels, with channel spacing ranging from less than 50 GHz to 140 GHz centered at any wavelength between 1250 and 1320 nm. “The race is on to reduce the cost of optical solutions for short-reach interconnects to the level needed by high-volume, mainstream computing applications,” said Juergen Kurb, CEO of Innolume. “Our vision is to enable high-density, low-cost, WDM transmission by using a single light source for all wavelengths—Innolume’s comb-laser.” Kurb added, “This funding will also enable Innolume to rapidly introduce quantum-dot based devices aimed at specific high-value medical applications.”

Innolume’s preferred compound semiconductor material system is indium arsenide (InAs) quantum dots in gallium arsenide (GaAs) with aluminum gallium arsenide (AlGaAs) barriers on GaAs substrates. The lasing wavelength window for Innolume’s quantum dot lasers is between 1064 nm and 1320 nm, controlled by the size and distribution of quantum dots, and indium concentration. This range fills the wavelength gap between quantum-well lasers based on either GaAs (less than 1100 nm) or indium phosphide (greater than 1300 nm).

Innolume is partnering with unnamed top- tier semiconductor companies on the QD comb laser and related products. “Since the computer industry has lately committed to merging silicon computing technology with laser-powered optical interconnects, we are excited that Innolume’s innovation applies the silicon integration paradigm for the first time to these lasers, namely, increased functionality and higher performance at lower cost.” said Ilia Dubinsky, SGCM Partner. Although company executives predict that optical interconnects will not dominate the computer landscape for at least another 10 years, in the short term, they see “ample opportunities in high-speed optical interconnects and proprietary high-performance computing applications.”

Originally spun-out of the Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute (St. Petersburg, Russia), Innolume began with the name Nanosemiconductor in a fabrication facility in Dortmund, Germany in 2003. The company acquired Zia Lasers (Albuquerque, NM) in Dec. 2006, and subsequently became Innolume.

—Valerie C. Coffey

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