In five years we may just see a revolution in residential and office lighting led by LEDs manufactured with gallium nitride, according to Professor Colin Humphreys of Cambridge University. Gallium nitride LED lighting produces a brilliant light and could cut electricity consumption by approximately 75% in developed countries. This reduction would have the added benefit of creating substantial cuts in carbon dioxide emissions from power stations and help to preserve our fossil fuel reserves.
Gallium nitride, or GaN, is a semiconductor material that is considered by many to be the next important semiconductor after silicon. It is a brilliant light emitter able to operate at high temperatures. GaN is used to create devices with small physical volume that produce high output power.
GaN is already used in some lighting applications, including camera flashes, bicycle lights, mobile phones and interior lighting for buses, trains, and planes. However, GaN LEDs are currently too expensive to manufacture for a wide-scale implementation in homes and offices and the harsh quality of the light they produce is another limiting factor.
According to Professor Humphreys, a GaN LED can burn for 100,000 hours, which is 100 times longer than a conventional incandescent light bulb. In normal use, this would mean a GaN LED light would only need to be replaced every 60 years! Plus, as with all LED lighting fixtures, GaN LEDs do not contain mercury thereby further reducing any negative environmental impacts.
In order to achieve all of these benefits, GaN’s manufacturing costs need to be reduced. The Cabridge Centre for Gallium Nitride, where Professor Humphrey’s leads the research, is working on a technique to grow GaN on a six-inch diameter silicon wafer instead of the sapphire wafers that have been used to date. Professor Humphrey’s said, “This could deliver a tenfold reduction in manufacturing costs…” helping GaN LED lighting to penetrate the home and office markets. Professor Humphrey’s goes on to say that GaN LED lights “…won’t just be good news for the environment – it will also benefit consumers in terms of convenience, electricity bills, and quality of life.”
You may visit the following websites to learn more:
Lighting Revolution Forecast by Top Scientist – http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=59182&CultureCode=en
What is Gallium Nitride? – http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/gallium-nitride-GaN
Gallium Nitride Makes for a New Kind of Nanotube – http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/MSD-gallium-nitride-nanotube.html