In 2004, two Russian physicists who were working in a lab at Helsinki University of Technology in Finland founded a company to continue developing a revolutionary technology in gallium nitride (GaN)-based Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Back in 1990s, the founders Vladislav Bougrov and Maxim Odnoblyudov were PhD students of the Nobel prize winner in physics, Zhores Alferov, in the Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia. The lighting products based on the semiconducting nanoheterostructures can substitute the traditional light sources including incandescent, fluorescent and other lamps and allow to significantly reduce power consumption.
Their company, which was named OptoGaN, raised EUR 5 million from Nordic Venture Fund, Via Venture Partners and previous investors VNT Management Oy / Power Fund I and Finnish Industry Investment in May 2007
OptoGaN was recently acquired by ONEXIM Group, a private investment fund of Mikhail Prokhorov. ONEXIM invests into metals & mining, power engineering, including hydrogen power engineering and nanotechnologies as well as in financial services, mass media and real estate industries.
Based on the acquired technology, ONEXIM today launched a joint company with the Russian state corporation RUSNANO and Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant (UOMP). ONEXIM Group will invest approximately $34 million for 50 percent + 1 share in the joint company. RUSNANO will invest 323 million rubles ($11.5 million) for 17 percent equity stake in the company as well as provide 1,453 million rubles ($52 million) in the form of a loan. UOMP will invest ca. $22 million for 33 percent – 1 share in the company
The joint company will manufacture new generation lighting systems and lamps based on the gallium nitride semiconductor chips. The company expects to generate revenues of more than $200 million in 2013. The world market of LEDs, which was valued at $4.2 billion in 2007, is expected to reach $12 billion in 2012.
Industrial production of heterostructures (multilayer structures consisting of semiconductors with different zone structure and varying lattice parameters) will be located in St. Petersburg within the special economic zone. The LED chips, lamps and lighting products assembly will be located in Yekaterinburg, on the basis of the lighting products subdivision of UOMP.
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are semiconducting units emitting light when the electric current is passing through them. LEDs were invented by Russian scientist Oleg Losev, who first discovered and studied the crystal diode fluorescence in the middle of 1920s. The LEDs based on the multilayer nanometer heterostructures were developed by Zhores Alferov, who was awarded the Noble prize in 2000 for his works.