UK aims for LED leadership

A consortium led by Filtronic has won a three-year contract within the DTI technology programme to develop a route to low cost LEDs for solid-state lighting.

Other consortium members involved in the £3m contract include Qinetiq, Forge Europa, Thomas Swan and Cambridge University.

High brightness Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps are a low cost, long life and efficient replacement for standard light bulbs, reducing energy requirements by at least 75%. Since lighting currently accounts for 20% of all electricity demand in the UK, use of LED lamps will give major energy savings without the environmental problems and short lifetimes of other bulbs.

At present a major barrier to using LEDs is the relatively high cost. This project will use large scale semiconductor processing methods for Gallium Nitride (GaN) based light emitting structures grown on silicon substrates to reduce costs and improve consistency. ??

The collaboration includes partners with commodity semiconductor expertise together with the foremost capabilities in the UK for GaN growth, fundamental science, and expertise in packaging and LED marketing.

Qinetiq has an international reputation for the growth of GaN-based structures for microwave transmitters. Under this programme Qinetiq will scale its existing growth of GaN on silicon substrates up to 6” diameter compatible with the Filtronic foundry.

Jon Salkeld, Managing Director of Qinetiq’s Optronics division, said: ‘This important DTI project will take LED lighting from an exciting technology to a low cost reality. Through our expertise in the growth of Gallium Nitride based structures Qinetiq is playing a key role in the development of LED lights that have the potential to improve the energy efficiency of lighting by around 75%.