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£1m centre aims to cut cost of leds

A new £1million growth facility, aimed at reducing the cost of Gallium Nitride leds, has been opened in Cambridge.

Launched with funding from the EPSRC, the centre will be used to improve current methods for growing low cost leds on silicon substrates, which could cut their cost by more than 50%.

"At the moment, a 48W led lightbulb, made from GaN on sapphire leds, costs about £15," said Professor Sir Colin Humphreys, from Cambridge University's Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy. "That's a cost that you make back several times, because the bulbs last for so long, but it is too much to convince most customers to buy them.

"The research we have already performed on GaN on silicon leds, plus that which we will carry out in this new reactor, will mean that soon people will be able to buy an led bulb for just £3 instead."

As well as being used to make affordable, efficient led lighting, Prof Humphreys believes Gallium Nitride could also replace silicon in current power electronics devices.

"If we can replicate these devices with Gallium Nitride electronics, we believe that we could make them 40% more efficient," he said. "That in itself would translate into a 9% electricity saving in the UK, if applied across the board."

Laura Hopperton

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