IP, Reports & Roadmaps | Jul 29, 2010

UK Government supports ground breaking energy reduction project developing GaN LED based solid-state light sources

The UK Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (formerly part of Department of Trade and Industry) has helped to enable the formation of a large vertically integrated consortium to focus on development of energy efficient solid-state light sources based on novel GaN LED chip technology.

In a £3.3 million research project, codenamed NoveLELS, a consortium of 9 partners consisting of 2 universities, 4 SMEs and 3 large aerospace companies will come together to develop high efficiency and high brightness solid-state light sources which will be trialled for use in aircraft cockpits and exterior lighting and consumer LCD devices. The UK Government and Technology Strategy Board has shown strong commitment to the solid-state lighting sector and hence towards energy reduction through the support of funding in excess of £1.7M for this project.

The consortium companies consists of aerospace companies Airbus and AgustaWestland, GE Aviation, IQE plc, Exxelis Limited, Mesophotonics Limited and Enfis Limited. Two world leading research groups at University of Bath and Brunel University will lead the research of novel LED chips and phosphor technology.

The project, started in March 2007, is led by Enfis, a company recently floated on the London Stock Exchange. The project seeks to commercialise high power solid-state LED sources and is focussed on the improvement of efficiency and quality of the light from these new light sources.

A major project goal is to stimulate the commercialisation of advanced GaN epitaxy and LED chip manufacturing in conjunction with advanced phosphors and thermally efficient packaging to create novel LED arrays and light engines for solid-state lighting applications.

The use of photonic crystal technology, pioneered by Mesophotonics along with novel epitaxial processes, pioneered at University of Bath and advanced phosphor technology, developed at Brunel University, will result in the achievement of high luminous efficacy and tailored spatial profile will provide key benefits in terms of energy efficiency and optical coupling efficiency.

A significant spin-off from the project will be the trial of a new method of GaN based LED chip production which is expected to dramatically reduce the cost per Lumen of solid-state light sources. The new methods will achieve this by increasing the yield of LED chip production and allowing the scaling of production to larger epitaxial wafer sizes without significant loss of yield through new GaN epitaxial processes pioneered at the University of Bath.

The end users of the technology in this project are in the aerospace and LCD backlighting markets and will provide a critical benchmark for the LED outputs. The end users will also be evaluating the use of this new LED technology within their applications. Adoption of LED technology by the partners into these markets will be a measurable output from the project. In addition the expected improvement in light quality and energy efficiency will allow the LED arrays and light engines to be used in other markets such as architectural, commercial office, entertainment and retail lighting as well as eventually being used in the home.

NoveLELS project manager, Dr Gareth Jones, CTO of Enfis Group plc stated that “By supporting this large collaborative project, the UK Government is stimulating both essential research and IP generation which will promote the UK to the forefront of leading research on a global level along with enabling a commercialisation route for epitaxy, chip fabrication and LED array manufacture within the UK.”

About the Partners
AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is a technology leader in its markets and has an unrivalled range of rotorcraft products designed to satisfy the requirements of commercial and military customers. The Company’s products range from the innovative 2.5-ton light single-engine AW119 Ke to the 16-ton three-engine AW101 helicopter. AgustaWestland has its main operations in Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Airbus UK Ltd is responsible for the design, development, and manufacture of high technology wings for all the Airbus family of aircraft including the External Lighting system, which includes such lights as the high output Landing, Taxi, Take-Off and Runway Turn-off lights.

The phosphor group at Brunel University was established 38 years ago and is the only academic group in Europe/USA that has carried out research on phosphors over this period. The Group specialises in the design and synthesis of novel phosphors with tailored size and morphology for a wide variety of uses.

Enfis Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Enfis Group plc. Enfis specialises in the design and manufacture of high power LED arrays and light engines for solid-state lighting and backlighting applications. Enfis has expertise in the integration of LED technology into high power and high efficiency LED arrays and integration into high efficiency plug and play digital light engines to control and power the LED arrays.

Exxelis Ltd is a Glasgow based developer of materials, processes and components for LCD display industry. It is developing novel, highly efficient LCD backlighting solutions which combine the functions of several layers in the backlight into a single film, addressing the key issues of cost, performance, size and weight. Exxelis was started in April 2004.

IQE plc is the leading provider of epitaxial foundry services to the compound semiconductor industry. IQE’s strategic focus is to become the number 1 player in each of its targeted markets, so as to maximise economy of scale benefits deriving from its large scale commercial epitaxy tools. IQE has an unrivalled track-record in successfully commercialising epitaxial innovation across a number of market segments.

Mesophotonics Ltd was launched in 2001 to design and develop photonic crystal nano-devices and take them to market. A University of Southampton spin-out company, its team has unique skills in modelling and understanding sub-wavelength structures. Mesophotonics specialises in the development of novel photonic quasicrystal structures and their applications to photonics and sensing in general.

Systems division of GE Aviation is a major avionics supplier. The expertise of the Systems division of GE Aviation (formerly Smiths Aerospace) lies in aerospace applications of hardware, software and systems. GE is a recognised leader in Flight Display products, both for main displays and standby instrumentation. GE has the optical and environmental test facilities and skills necessary to evaluate the resulting products suitability for use in an airborne end system.

The GaN Technology Groupof the University of Bath, established and led by Professor W.N. Wang, is recognised as one of Europe's leading centres of solid state lighting research. The Group has established internationally competitive epitaxial growth of Group III Nitrides and pioneered the UK's development of GaN growth by HVPE.