Japanese LED project targets medical applications

Sept. 3, 2004
A new government-supported project has been launched in Japan to develop medical equipment and therapeutic techniques based on LEDs.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology (MEXT) has allocated ¥500 million (around $4.6 million) for the 2004 financial year to establish the Yamaguchi-Ube Medical Innovation Centre (YuMIC). Similar amounts are expected to be allocated in each of the subsequent four years.

Located in Yamaguchi Prefecture, YuMIC will develop next-generation non-invasive medical diagnostic and therapeutic equipment. The project will make use of InGaN-based white LED technology developed in part by Professor Tsunemasa Taguchi of Yamaguchi University, who is the research director for the YuMIC project.

As well as several universities, more than 20 companies are involved in YuMIC, including Fuji Electric, Matsushita Electric Works, Mitsubishi Cable, Sanyo Seiki and Yokogawa Electric.

The program plans to develop endoscopes and other invasive optical equipment that utilize the benefits of high-brightness LEDs ? these include long lifetime, low power consumption, small size, high color fidelity and lack of heat production from infrared radiation. A surgical navigation system is also planned, which will use bicolor fluorescence spectroscopy.

YuMIC also hopes to use white HB-LEDs to develop interior lighting for medical applications, and to create disinfectant and deodorant facilities and equipment.

A variety of high performance diagnostic equipment is also on the project?s roadmap, including small, inexpensive analyzers that utilize quantum dot technology.

Professor Yamaguchi was also involved in the "Light for the 21st Century" project, which ended in March 2003. The project received a total of ¥6000 million ($55 million) over a five-year period from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) to develop GaN-based LED technology for lighting applications (see Japanese collaboration seeks efficient white LED lighting).