"When you have a very tight lattice match, light generation happens far more efficiently... It really leads to LED 2.0 and a whole new disruptive technology curve." - Soraa CEO Eric Kim
? The Centre for Quantum Devices at Northwestern University, Evanston-Illinois, created the first UV HVPE-GaN (galium nitride) substrate LEDs in 2002 while experimenting with different materials. Increased efficiency and heat-dissipation were noted.
? Panasonic launched the industry's first white LED using a GaN substrate in 2007. The extremely expensive lamps were sparsely used.
? In December 2010, Ostendo Technologies and Technologies and Devices International grew a LED structure onto a GaN substrate. This ended up in a 2.5x emission intensity increase. In other words, a energy efficiency increase compared to similar LEDs with the same luminosity. Their tech is used now in LED TVs, consoles and Blu-Ray players, automotive lighting, and solar cells.
MR16 GaN on GaN LED (via Soraa)
? Now in 2012, "startup" company Soraa Inc has just announced their mass-produced MR16 bulb, a 12.5-watt GaN based luminary able to replace a 50-watt halogen fixtures in store and museum lighting applications. Soraa's LED also places the GaN light emitting semiconductor material onto a GaN substrate. Soraa labeled and trademarked the tech as "GaN on GaN™" LEDs. Matching the materials between the layers create uniformity within the entire LED system. In other words, with less imperfections the Soraa LED can handle more current, and produce more light at any given power level. Traditionally, LEDs are manufactured with silicon carbide or sapphire substrates. The lattice mismatch between the active material, GaN LED, and substrate result in a loss of power and efficiency.
The GaN on GaN™ comes with one glaring disadvantage, cost. No price on the various lamp options, but Soraa CEO Eric Kim said, " If they could buy our bulb for a price point less than $25, their payback period is less than a year. At that price point, it's a no-brainer."
However, Paul Scheidt, marketing manager at competitor CREE, stated that making a GaN substrate LED would result in a cost "on the order of 50-100 times more expensive than an equivalent sapphire wafer. So, while the wafer cost doesn't matter too much in the world of GaN-on-sapphire LEDs, it definitely would be a major expense for GaN-on-GaN."
No true price has been announced. However, the first run of MR16 lamps will be available in the first quarter of 2012.
Soraa was founded in 2008 by a very able group; Dr. Shuji Nakamura, inventor of the blue laser and White LED, Dr. Steven DenBaars, founder of Nitres, and Dr. James Speck of U.C. Santa Barbara's College of Engineering. Together, they were able to raise over $100 million USD in investment capital before solid prototypes were produced.
Although, what they are producing is not exactly new, they are one of the few who produce the tech on such a massive scale. Bringing the efficiencies to the large scale lighting space is the beginning of full LED adoption.
See more lighting innovations in element14's Lighting Group.