Why: Light-emitting diodes are an energy-efficient option for lighting in buildings and homes, but they are still expensive.
Key innovation: Its low-cost process produces LEDs on the same equipment used to make semiconductors.
Lattice Power has developed a lower-cost process for making high-brightness light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which today are widely used to backlight displays in mobile devices, and are being increasingly used in liquid-crystal-display televisions and computer monitors. LEDs can produce the same brightness as fluorescent lights using 20 times less electricity, which means they could eventually be used to light people's homes more cheaply and efficiently.
The global market for the high-brightness LEDs Lattice Power makes is currently around $10 billion and is expected to more than double by 2015.
The company has demonstrated a technique for using chemical vapor deposition technology to deposit layers of gallium nitride on a silicon wafer to create its high-brightness LEDs. Using abundant silicon as a substrate rather than the sapphire or silicon carbide substrates commonly used today could lead to considerably cheaper devices helping to bring down the costs of a wide array of electronic displays.
Challenges and Next Steps:
The company recently received $12.5 million from the World Bank's investment arm in order to build a new manufacturing facility in Jiangxi Province, China. The company still has to show that its silicon-based technology can offer the same performance and reliability as LEDs made with current technology.