Polar Sapphire: Driving down LED costs

Polar Sapphire’s proprietary process produces the world’s lowest cost, highest purity alumina. High purity alumina faces growing demand, driven primarily by the growth in LED lighting market — but secondary (and highly disruptive) demand may be created by emerging markets like sapphire smart phone glass (see Apple’s recent announcement relating to sapphire ingot production), lithium-ion battery coating, etc.

High purity alumina — 99.99+% pure aluminum oxide (Al2O3) — is used to make artificial sapphires. Sapphire ingots are cored, then sliced to make the crystal wafer substrates on which LEDs are grown. Higher purity alumina yields larger wafers due to the smaller number of impurities in the core ingot. Larger wafers drives down the cost of LED production.

The market for high purity alumina was near 14000 tonnes in 2013 and is expected to grow to 25000 tonnes by 2015. Market prices remain near $50/kg — leading to an addressable market of more than a billion dollars by 2015. Polar’s high-margin, low-cost (and low energy) production method will ensure it’s position as the lowest cost and highest quality provider in this market.

Currently building a production line large enough to demonstrate core economics and initiate strategic customer engagement. Our first investment was placed in 2012, and we recently led their B-Round in Q4 2013. We look forward to supporting Polar right through full commercial production.

CEO Scott Nichol is a savvy entrepreneur who proved his ability to deliver disruptive industrial-scale chemical processes as founder/CTO of 6N Solar.

Originally posted Jan 22, 2014 on the ArcternVentures.com