Ammonothermal Growth of GaN Substrates for LEDs

Soraa, Inc.
High-Pressure Ammonothermal Process for Bulk Gallium Nitride Crystal Growth for Energy Efficient Commercially Competitive Lighting
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$6,319,259
Location: 
Fremont, CA
Project Term: 
06/06/2012 to 04/30/2015
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Gallium nitride (GaN)-based light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have demonstrated much higher efficiencies than traditional lighting technologies. However, adoption into large-scale applications has been inhibited by high costs, which are due in part to the absence of inexpensive native substrates. If highly efficient, low-cost LEDs fabricated on native substrates are deployed widely in both commercial and residential applications, the new substrate and native-substrate-based LED technologies could lead to savings of up to 300 terawatt-hours of electricity per year, roughly equivalent to the output of fifty 1000-megawatt power plants.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
The new GaN crystal growth method is adapted from that used to grow quartz crystals, which are very inexpensive and represent the second-largest market for single crystals for electronic applications (after silicon). More extreme conditions are required to grow GaN crystals and therefore a new type of chemical growth chamber was invented that is suitable for large-scale manufacturing. A new process was developed that grows GaN crystals at a rate that is more than double that of current processes. The new technology will enable GaN substrates with best-in-world quality at lowest-in-world prices, which in turn will enable new generations of white LEDs, lasers for full-color displays, and high-performance power electronics.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, Soraa's advanced LEDs would improve the energy efficiency of buildings, substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions and positioning the U.S. as a leader in the new substrate manufacturing industry.
Security: 
Improving the energy efficiency of our buildings reduces pressure on the electrical grid, improving its stability.
Environment: 
Energy savings of up to 300 terawatt-hours per year corresponds to about 210 million metric tons of carbon greenhouse gases. In addition, replacing fluorescent lamps with LEDs will reduce environmental mercury exposures.
Economy: 
These applications represent markets of more than $50 billion per year and have the potential to reduce electricity consumption in the United States by 10% or more.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Timothy Heidel
Project Contact: 
Mark D'Evelyn