Crystal IS to develop UV LEDs for water sterilisation

New York-based ultraviolet light-emitting diode (LED) developer Crystal IS has been awarded $5m (£3m) by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop efficient LEDs operating below 275nm for use in water-sterilisation applications.

’DARPA selected us for this award based upon the performance of our existing 265nm LEDs that leverage our proprietary aluminium nitride (AlN) substrate technology,’ said Dr Steven Berger, chief executive officer at Crystal IS. ’With the help provided by DARPA, we believe we will accelerate the development cycle and bring bright, efficient, and long-lifetime UV LEDs to market sooner.’

The development will take place at Crystal IS’s facility in Green Island, New York, and will run in parallel with the company’s effort to produce large-diameter AlN substrates.

’To make the project as successful as possible we have assembled a group of expert collaborators,’ said Dr Leo Schowalter, chief technical officer and founder of Crystal IS. ’These include industrial and university partners and a co-operative research agreement with the US Army Research Laboratory.’

Earlier in the year, the company demonstrated for the first time that devices with a wavelength of 250nm could be used to replace widely used mercury-based disinfection lamps.

Initial applications of the company’s products will include residential and office point-of-use systems such as water coolers and counter-top systems providing alternatives to bottled water. The company also believes that the technology could be deployed in industrial and municipal purification, where long-lasting, energy-efficient LEDs could also replace existing mercury-based light sources.

Last year, the company signed an agreement with Sanan Optoelectronics, the largest manufacturer of full-colour LEDs in China, to establish a pilot manufacturing line for building LEDs operating in the UV-C part of the electromagnetic spectrum.