Ammonothermal Growth of GaN Substrates for LEDs

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OPEN 2009
Fremont, California
Project Term:
06/06/2012 - 01/31/2016

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:

Soraa's 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.

Potential Impact:

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.


Improving the energy efficiency of our buildings reduces pressure on the electrical grid, improving its stability.


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.


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.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Timothy Heidel
Project Contact:
Mark D'Evelyn
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