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Components | February 07, 2012

Plessey acquires CamGaN

British technological breakthrough will cut the cost of energy-efficient high-brightness (HB) LED lighting by 80% through the use of 6-inch gallium nitride (GaN)on silicon technology.
Plessey has acquired CamGaN Limited, a University of Cambridge spin-out formed to commercialisenovel technologies for the growth of gallium nitride (GaN) high-brightness LEDs on large-area silicon substrates. The acquisition will enable Plessey to exploit synergies with its 6-inch processing facility in Plymouth, England to produce HB LEDs based on CamGaN's proprietary 6-inch GaN-on-silicon technology.

The newly acquired Plessey HB LED solution enables the growth of thin HB LED structureson standard, readily available, silicon substrates. Current technologies usesilicon carbide (SiC) or sapphire substrates,which are expensive and difficult to scale-up.

Plessey's GaN-on-silicon solution offers cost reductions of the order of 80% compared to LEDs grown on SiC or sapphire by:

- reducing scrap rates
- minimising batch time and
- enabling the use of automated semiconductor processing equipment. These cost reductions will be achieved while enabling outputs in excess of 150 lumens per watt later this year - a combination that will allow Plessey to offer the most cost effective solutions in the HB LED industry.

Michael LeGoff, Plessey's Managing Director commented, "HB LED lighting represents the future of domestic, architectural, medical and automotive lighting. Achieving the goals of high efficiency and brightness is key to the rapid deployment of energy saving, solid state lighting. This new British technology provides cost and performance advantages that will constitute a game-changing step forwardtowards the replacement of incandescent and fluorescent bulbs with HB LED lamps."

Commenting on the significance of Plessey's new technology, Dr John Ellis, Chief Engineer at Plessey, said: "To date, the biggest technological challenge preventing the commercialisation of HB LEDs grown on large-area silicon substrates has been the large lattice mismatch between GaN and silicon. Plessey's new GaN-on-silicon process has overcome this challenge and our expertise combined with the intrinsic cost savings of using automated 6 inch processing equipment will position Plessey's HB LED lighting products at the forefront of the industry."

Professor Sir Colin Humphreys, CBE FREng, Director of the Cambridge Centre for Gallium Nitride, Professor of Experimental Physics at the Royal Institute and co-inventor of the GaN-on-silicon technology, added: "Everyone at Cambridge is delighted to be working with a company like Plessey who are committed to exploiting GaN-on-silicon technology in the UK. Thistechnology is the product of substantial R&D investment over the past decade and the plans for its commercial development within Plessey have tremendous potential. The opportunities to develop affordable smart-lighting products for domestic, medical, automotive and other applications provide a real opportunity to have a positive impact on people's lives."

Plessey's first samples of a blue LED are characterised by peak emission at 460nm. The technology extends to other emission wavelengths such as cyan and green. Being able to achieve such high brightness at the blue end of the spectrum enables phosphors to be used to produce white light with a balanced spectrum of light emission that is better for the eye. White output powers of 150 lumens/watt are planned for late Q4 2012.

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