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27 July 2007


UK supporting LED-based NoveLELS solid-state lighting project

The UK Government’s Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (formerly part of Department of Trade and Industry) is granting £3.3m (including £1.7m from the UK Government and Technology Strategy Board) for the research project NoveLELS (Novel LEDs for Efficient Lighting Solutions).

NoveLELS started in March and focuses on developing and commercializing high-efficiency, high-brightness GaN LED-based solid-state light sources (to be trialled for use in aircraft cockpits and exterior lighting and consumer LCD devices).

The project was started through the formation of a vertically integrated consortium of nine partners consisting of:

  • three large aerospace companies - Airbus UK Ltd (which manufactures external lighting systems as well as wings), Anglo-Italian helicopter maker AgustaWestland (a Finmeccanica company), and GE Aviation’s UK-based Systems division (formerly Smiths Aerospace), which makes flight display products;
  • two universities (the University of Bath and Brunel University, which are leading the project’s research on novel LED chips and phosphor technology); and
  • four small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs: epiwafer foundry IQE plc of Cardiff, Wales, Exxelis Ltd of Glasgow, Scotland, and University of Southampton spin-off Mesophotonics Ltd, as well as Enfis Ltd of Swansea, Wales as project leader).

A major project goal is to stimulate the commercialization of 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 epitaxial processes pioneered at University of Bath (by the GaN Technology Group of professor W.N. Wang) and phosphor technology developed at Brunel University will result in high luminous efficacy and tailored spatial profile aims to provide key benefits in terms of energy efficiency and optical coupling efficiency.

A significant spin-off will be the trial of a new method of GaN-based LED chip production that is expected to dramatically reduce the cost per lumen of solid-state light sources by allowing scale-up to larger epiwafer sizes without significant loss of yield via Bath’s new GaN epitaxial processes.

End-users in the aerospace and LCD backlighting markets will evaluate use of the LED technology within their applications. Also, the expected improvement in light quality and energy efficiency should 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.

“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 commercialization route for epitaxy, chip fabrication and LED array manufacture within the UK,” says NoveLELS’ project manager Dr Gareth Jones, chief technology officer of Enfis Ltd’s parent company Enfis Group plc.

See related items:

Analysts forecast seven-year wait before LEDs penetrate home lighting market

UK government grants £3m to develop GaN LEDs on 6” silicon for low-cost solid-state lighting