LED lighting is a promising technology that could save consumers a bundle on their energy bills—but it’s ridiculously expensive. This week Bridgelux, a leading manufacturer of LED lighting technologies and solutions, announced a major breakthrough that should make the lights affordable to the masses.
Bridgelux’s 135 Lumens per Watt GaN-on-Silicon based LED technology represents the industry’s first commercial grade performance for a silicon-based LED. Most LED epitaxial wafers are made using large sapphire or silicon carbide substrates, which are are costly, difficult to process, and not widely available. As a result, production costs have inhibited widespread adoption of LED lighting in homes and commercial buildings, Bridgelux stated in its announcement. Growing GaN on larger, low-cost silicon wafers that are compatible with modern semiconductor manufacturing could reduce costs by 75 percent.
Growing GaN on larger, low-cost silicon wafers that are compatible with modern semiconductor manufacturing can deliver a 75 percent improvement in cost over current approaches. Photo courtesy Bridgelux
The move to a silicon substrate will be a revolutionary step for the LED industry, Bridgelux states. The company expects to deliver its first commercially available GaN-on-Silicon products over the next two to three years. “The significantly reduced cost-structures enabled by Silicon-based LED technology will continue to deliver dramatic reductions in the up-front capital investment required for solid state lighting,” said Bill Watkins, Bridgelux CEO. “In as little as two to three years, even the most price-sensitive markets such as commercial and office lighting, residential applications and retrofit lamps will seamlessly and rapidly convert to solid state lighting.”
In Why All Your Bulbs May Soon Be LEDs, Kit Eaton of Fast Company writes: "Ten times greater electrical efficiency, ten times the lifespan of old bulbs and a much more affordable cost? Yup--soon every light you encounter may be an LED one."