LED technology breakthrough

01 July 2013

RESEARCHERS from the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Centre at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (US) have successfully integrated an LED and a power transistor on the same gallium nitride (GaN) chip. This innovation could open the door to a new generation of LED technology that is less expensive to manufacture, significantly more efficient, and which enables new functionalities and applications far beyond illumination.

At the heart of today’s light-emitting diode (LED) lighting systems are chips made from GaN, a semiconductor material. For the LED to function, many external components-such as inductors, capacitors, silicon interconnects, and wires-must be installed on or integrated into the chip. The large size of the chip, with all of these necessary components, complicates the design and performance of LED lighting products. Additionally, the process of assembling these complex LED lighting systems can be slow, manually intensive, and expensive.

In a new study led by T Paul Chow, professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering (ECSE) at Rensselaer, the researchers sought to solve this challenge by developing a chip with components all made from GaN. This type of monolithically integrated chip simplifies LED device manufacturing, with fewer assembly steps and less required automation. Additionally, LED devices made with monolithically integrated chips will have fewer parts to malfunction, higher energy efficiency and cost effectiveness, and greater lighting design flexibility.

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