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1 December 2008


PhotonStar and Cambridge win UK funding for £1m LED lighting R&D program

LED lighting designer PhotonStar LED Ltd of Chilworth Science Park, Southampton, UK and the University of Cambridge have won funding from the UK government’s Technology Strategy Board for a 24-month collaborative R&D program ‘LED Lighting for the 21st Century’ (LL21C).

The project aims to produce high-power gallium nitride (GaN) LEDs capable of 95% light extraction using an electrical isolation layer that is designed to dramatically simplify packaging, boost performance and reduce costs for general lighting applications. The total project size is about £1m.

“Advanced light and laser sources are an area where the UK has an excellent reputation for world-class research activity, a healthy industrial base and the capability to exploit the results globally,” comments Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board. “Innovative R&D, such as the LED lighting for the 21 st Century project, will enable the UK to develop world-leading technologies that have global market potential,” he adds.

“It’s a great win for us and endorses all the work we have been doing in this area,” says PhotonStars’ chief technical officer Dr Majd Zoorob, who co-founded the firm in 2007 with CEO Dr James McKenzie.

At this year's Architectural, Commercial and Retail Lighting show (ARC ’08), PhotonStar launched its first product, the CeilingStar5-IC (the first of its Performance Ecolighting products), a downlighter for fully insulated ceilings. CeilingStar5 produces 450 lumens at thermal equilibrium from 8W of circuit power in either warm-white or neutral-white colors and provides equivalent illumination to a 60W incandescent downlighter or a 35W MR16 downlighter. In February PhotonStar acquired an optical and electrical characterization laboratory able to handle LED technology (from the LED die, through LED modules to the luminaire).

“The funding, combined with being able to work with such a prestigious team at Cambridge University, will enable us to push the boundaries in this all-important area of lighting... will be able to advance the energy and environmental benefits of LEDs even further,” Zoorob adds.

“LEDs have great potential to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions [by 10-15% from power stations] and reduce waste associated with disposal of conventional and low-energy light bulbs,” comments professor Colin Humphreys, director of The Cambridge Centre for Gallium Nitride in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy (founded in 2000). A key focus of the center's research is GaN LED lighting. If LED lighting was used in homes and offices, the energy saved could enable the UK to close eight power stations (or avoid building eight new ones), it is reckoned.

The Technology Strategy Board is investing over £7m in 12 lighting technology R&D projects, while the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is contributing nearly £1m to five of the projects.

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