An LED lighting project conducted by Nanchang University and LatticePower Corp in Jiangxi province was awarded the 2015 National Technology Invention Prize (First-Class) earlier this month.
China has now joined Japan and the United States as an LED lighting technology owner, as the prize-winning GaN-on-silicon LED is the world's third commercial LED lighting technology, after the sapphire-based LED developed in Japan and silicon carbide-based LED technology of the US.
Jiang Fengyi, the leader of the research team and director of the LED engineering technology research center of Nanchang University, said their LED lighting features greater heat-dissipating capabilities, better antistatic effects, a longer life and greater efficiency.
"When it comes to one-side luminance of a thin film chip, ours is the most cost-effective," Jiang said. "Some of our products cost only one-third of the Japanese and US counterparts, and some cost 30 percent less."
He said that IBM started research on GaN-on-silicon LED 30 years before them, but failed and gave up.
Jiang's team started their research in 2003 and made their first prototype in 2005. They commercialized the technology by seeking international investors and founding LatticePower in 2006 in Nanchang.
The company is "an early adopter of this technology and commenced volume production of GaN-on-Si die in June 2012", according to Manufacturing Roadmap: Solid-State Lighting Research and Development, a report by the US Department of Energy in 2014.
LatticePower achieved more than $60 million in sales revenue in 2014, with nearly 100 percent year-on-year growth for three consecutive years. It invests more than 80 million yuan ($12.1 million) a year in R&D.
Fu Yi, an R&D executive at the company, said the mainstream product in China was sapphire-based LED.
"However, it was difficult to export Chinese products overseas because foreign companies had well-established patent protection," he said.
The home-developed GaN-on-Si LED technology will help Chinese companies avoid patent disputes and change the global LED business structure, said Jiang.
The research team has filed more than 330 patent applications for the technology and acquired 147, including 47 international patents, according to LatticePower.
A GaN-on-silicon LED industry chain has been developed in China, involving 12 companies, which will generate about 10 billion yuan in annual output value in the next three years, the company expects.
Quality inspectors at an LED lighting factory in Shangrao, Jiangxi province, check newly produced LED light bulbs.Zhuo Weizhong / For China Daily