Bulk GaN substrate project from ARPA-E to be led by Soraa

Aug. 23, 2012
Fremont, CA--Soraa was selected by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to lead a project on the development of bulk GaN substrates.

Fremont, CA--A developer of solid-state lighting technology built on pure gallium nitride (GaN) substrates, referred to as GaN on GaN [trademark], Soraa has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E; http://arpa-e.energy.gov/) to lead a project on the development of bulk gallium nitride (GaN) substrates for light-emitting diodes (LEDs), laser diodes, and power electronics.

This is currently the only ARPA-E-funded LED substrate project. Using GaN as a substrate holds promise for many industries, but has immediate applications for light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which Soraa manufactures. Soraa says that a major advancement in a commercially viable new substrate is a promising disruptive technology in the areas of higher efficiency and performance. GaN on GaN LEDs are of particular interest because they have demonstrated much higher performance than traditional lighting technologies and offer the potential for major energy savings.

According to Soraa Founder Shuji Nakamura, who Soraa says is praised as the "father of LEDs" even by competitors, breakthroughs in GaN substrates can have far-reaching implications. "I have spent many decades of my life working on gallium nitride for LEDs because I believe this is a very important development and holds great promise for more energy efficient technology in lighting, power electronics and more."

Gallium Nitride is a unique semiconductor used in the manufacture of all white, blue and green LEDs. Most of these LEDs today are made by depositing GaN on non-native substrates, typically sapphire or silicon carbide. By contrast, virtually all other semiconductor technologies are based on "native" substrates, such as silicon on silicon or gallium arsenide on gallium arsenide. Soraa is the only LED manufacturer in the world shipping products based on GaN on GaN LEDs. To date, adoption of GaN on GaN technology for large-scale applications has been inhibited by high costs due in part to the absence of inexpensive native GaN substrates. Soraa says that creating a made-in-the-USA solution to the challenges of bulk GaN production will benefit the company, the LED industry, and the American consumer with more energy efficient, less expensive, and more readily available components.

Because of innate physical properties of the compound, GaN on GaN LEDs can withstand higher power densities than diodes made with other substrates. This means a much brighter diode and only one LED light emitter per lamp. Other manufacturers using other substrates have to use three, four, and even more to get the same brightness. Multiple sources of light within a lamp mean fuzzy shadows and not the crisp light required of an MR-16 for best use in commercial, museum or high-end consumer applications. The MR-16 lamps-or bulbs-are Soraa's first commercially available product.

ARPA-E, a new agency within the U.S. Department of Energy that invests exclusively in transformational energy technologies, began funding Soraa as a consortium member for this project in 2011. ARPA-E's recent decision to make Soraa the lead organization on the project means that Soraa will become the prime contractor working with ARPA-E to commercialize GaN substrate technology. Applications for GaN substrates have the potential to reduce U.S. energy consumption by over 30%. Those same applications represent potential markets, including laser diodes and power electronics, of over $50 billion annually, according a US Department of Energy study.

"Soraa is delighted to take the lead for this project and continue development of ammonothermal technology for bulk GaN substrates. This level of funding combined with the vote of confidence from the Department of Energy is a significant step forward to a future of lighting technology based on large-area, high-quality, low-cost GaN substrates," said Mike Krames, Soraa CTO.

SOURCE: Soraa; http://soraa.com/news/soraa-chosen-to-lead-DOE-ARPA-project

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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