While GaN-based lighting certainly isn’t a new concept, the use of this technology has been largely avoided in the past due to the high production costs it entails. CCGN scientists say the new technique, which grows GaN on silicon wafers, brings down manufacturing costs to a tenth of current prices. Their method also achieves a 50 percent boost in terms of efficiency on previous approaches, which used GaN grown in labs on expensive sapphire wafers. In fact, the current prototype was tested to be 12 times more efficient than traditional tungsten bulbs and 3 times more efficient than fluorescents. The scientists have calculated that if GaN lights do become a standard for home and office use, it would cut the proportion of UK electricity used for lights from 20 to 5 percent – a reduction equivalent to the output of eight power stations.
While GaN LEDs are already being used in camera flashes, mobile phones, bicycle lights, and other small-scale applications, CCGN scientists say there are many more possible uses to explore. Parallel research is currently being carried out to see how GaN lights could mimic sunlight to aid those who are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Moreover, the scientists say that ultraviolet rays made from GaN lighting could aid water purification and disease control in developing countries, as well as identify the spread of cancer tumors and help fight hospital “super bugs.”
The new technology has already been turned over to a manufacturer – “RFMD” in County Dunham, according from who the first GaN LED bulbs should be expected to appear on the shelves within two years from today.