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Alliance for GaN LEDs nets £1.7 million UK grant

02 Aug 2007

A nine-way collaboration named NoveLELs will bring universities together with companies developing new LED-based technologies for aircraft and general lighting applications.

A project looking to “promote the UK to the forefront of leading research” into GaN LED light sources has earned £1.7 million ($3.4 million) in funding from the UK government.

The partnership, which began in March, is worth £3.3 million in total and called NoveLELS. It will run for three years and involves nine different participating institutions.

The LED technology development will rely heavily on the two academic partners, using Brunel University's expertise in phosphors, and HVPE and MOCVD techniques developed by Wang Nang Wang at the University of Bath.

The collaboration hopes to use Wang's processes to increase yields and make GaN LEDs on 4-inch wafers, combining it with the technology of the other partners to reduce cost per lumen in solid-state light sources. IQE will contribute epitaxial foundry services to help achieve these targets.

According to Gareth Jones, NoveLELS' project manager, and also CTO of solid-state lighting company Enfis, the ultimate aim is to develop LED products which could enter commercial production – although no volume manufacturing is planned in the collaboration.

“There are two real strands to the project,” Jones said, “one is to take existing commercial technology for the GaN chip and build that into lighting modules.”

“That will also act as a benchmark for some of the technology development that's going on at the chip and epitaxy level within the other side of the project.”

Enfis specializes in the production of LED arrays and light engines, providing NoveLELs' solid-state lighting expertise alongside Southampton start-up Mesophotonics, who provide design services for photonic crystals to enhance LED emission, and LCD backlight component maker Exxelis.

The three remaining partners, AgustaWestland, Airbus UK and GE Aviation, will provide specifications and testing. Consequently, final applications include, but are not limited to, lighting on airplane wings and in cockpits, as Jones explains.

“The basic technology that will come out will provide benchmarks for how we're positioned in the general lighting sectors, rather than it being very specific to aerospace,” Jones said.

Although early results suggest good progress, Jones says that NoveLELs wants to take some time to consider where in the GaN LED field the UK should be positioned.

The scope for dramatic developments in solid-state lighting over the course of the project means that Jones and his collaborators will be regularly re-assessing the aims of NoveLELs.

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