UK-based NoveLELS project earns government backing

Enfis is leading a consortium of companies with funding from the UK government to develop efficient LED-based sources and establish a UK capability for LED chip and array production.

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The UK Government is to contribute funding towards a £3.3 million research project, NoveLELS, in which a vertically-integrated consortium of 9 partners will develop high efficiency and high brightness solid-state light sources. These will be trialed for use in aircraft cockpits and exterior lighting and consumer LCD devices.

The UK Technology Strategy Board has shown strong commitment to the solid-state lighting sector and its potential for energy reduction. The UK government is providing funding in excess of £1.7 million for this project via the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (formerly part of Department of Trade and Industry).

The consortium consists of:
• 3 large aerospace companies; Airbus, AgustaWestland, GE Aviation
• 4 SMEs: IQE plc, Exxelis Limited, Mesophotonics Limited and Enfis Limited
• 2 research groups at University of Bath and Brunel University

The project commenced in March 2007 and is led by Enfis, a manufacturer of multi-watt light engines and arrays. A major project goal is to stimulate the commercialisation of advanced GaN epitaxy and LED chip manufacturing in conjunction with advanced phosphors and thermally efficient packaging to create novel LED arrays and light engines for solid-state lighting applications.

The use of photonic crystal technology, pioneered by Mesophotonics, along with novel epitaxial processes, pioneered at University of Bath as well as advanced phosphor technology, developed at Brunel University, will result in the achievement of high luminous efficacy and tailored spatial profile. This is expected to provide key benefits in terms of energy efficiency and optical coupling efficiency.

A significant spin-off from the project will be the trial of a new method of GaN-based LED chip production which is expected to dramatically reduce the cost per lumen of solid-state light sources. The new methods will achieve this by increasing the yield of LED chip production and allowing the scaling of production to larger epitaxial wafer sizes without significant loss of yield through new GaN epitaxial processes pioneered at the University of Bath.

The end users of the technology in this project are in the aerospace and LCD backlighting markets, and will evaluate the use of this new LED technology within their applications. Adoption of LED technology by the partners into these markets will be a measurable output from the project.

In addition the expected improvement in light quality and energy efficiency will allow the LED arrays and light engines to be used in other markets such as architectural, commercial office, entertainment and retail lighting as well as eventually being used in the home.

NoveLELS project manager Gareth Jones, CTO of Enfis Group plc, said "By supporting this large collaborative project, the UK Government is stimulating both essential research and IP generation which will promote the UK to the forefront of leading research on a global level along with enabling a commercialisation route for epitaxy, chip fabrication and LED array manufacture within the UK."

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