May 22, 2014
Student Startup Corrects Material Defects for More Affordable LED Lighting
By: Jodi Ackerman Frank
With the phasing out of the outmoded incandescent light bulb in
countries around the world and the public more aware than ever of the
energy savings and long lifetime of light emitting diodes (LEDs), the
LED industry for general lighting has experienced a wave of explosive
growth in recent years.
Still, the expense to produce LEDs — thus
the upfront cost to customers — has hampered more widespread consumer
use. One major issue is that the semiconducting materials of which LEDs
are made typically have large numbers of defects that have to be
fixed,resulting in the high cost of the finished product.
an early-stage startup company founded by three doctoral candidates at
the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Nanoscale Science and
Engineering (CNSE), has developed a low-cost technology thatcorrects
this defect problem.
The startup recently won $10,000 as the
first-place winner in the Energy/Sustainability categoryin the final
round of the New York Business Plan Competition that took place at CNSE.
The company also has beenawarded a $50,000 grant from SUNY’sTechnology
Accelerator Fund program.
The company works closely with CNSE’s
Incubators for Collaborating & Leveraging Energy And Nanotechnology
(iCLEAN), one of six cleantech incubators around the State funded by the
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
an LED circuit is turned on, electrons move through the
semiconductormaterial to produce light. Unfortunately, the defects in
the semiconductor serve as the most favorable pathway for the electrons
to travel. But when electrons pass through the damaged parts of the
material, the LED produces little or no light. Companies deal with the
problem largely by using more expensive substrate materials on which the
LEDs are grown,decreasing the number of defects but also bumping up
Goodlight has developed a process that enhances
the quality of the semiconductor simply by rerouting the electrons away
from the deformed parts of the material. This is done in part by
immersing the LED wafers in a chemical solution, which isolates the
materials’ defects, creating a barrier that prevents the electrons from
"Our technology allows us to get light out of
LEDs with a large number of defects and allows manufacturers to make
affordable devices on material that previously would have been thrown
away," said company Chief Technology OfficerJack Bulmer.
Goodlight’s technology is an extra step that can be integrated into the
existing LED production process. LED manufacturing is divided into four
distinct stages: growth, fabrication, testing and binning, and
Goodlight’s technology is applied after the growth
stage, which the company says allows it to target manufacturers that
develop LED products from start to finish onsite. The company can also
serve the manufacturers that focus only on developing the LED
semiconductor materials, which are then shipped off to other companies
for assembly and packaging.
The startup is seeking $1 million to
establish a better prototype for lab researchand to finance an
independent processing facility. This facility would be housed in CNSE’s
Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Complex at RiverBend,which is being
constructed in Buffalo, NY. The announcement for the state-of-the-art
anchor hub complex for high-tech and green-energy businesses was made by
Governor Cuomoin late 2013. The two buildings totaling 275,000 square
feet of high-tech space are expected to be ready for occupancy by 2015.