Donation Drives Development of Better Light Bulb

Donation Drives Development of Better Light Bulb

The future looks bright for gallium nitride, already a star in light-emitting diodes, lasers, and high-power transistors. A sizeable donation will help researchers at the University of Cambridge develop new uses for the material, hailed as the most important new electronic material since silicon.

A £500,000 donation of equipment from the Cambridge-based Thomas Swan Scientific Equipment Ltd. is aimed at taking gallium nitride to a new level.

"Light-emitting diodes based on gallium nitride can be used to make light bulbs that last 100 times longer than traditional bulbs and consume only 10% of their energy," said Colin Humphreys, of Cambridge's department of materials science and metallurgy. "If light bulbs are replaced by these LEDs, huge energy savings will result, with big reductions in CO2 emissions from power stations."

In addition to the lighting aspect of the material, gallium nitride is also used in the manufacture of blue lasers, which researchers say can write at least four times more information on CDs and optical disks than the red lasers presently used.

Other potential applications for this technology include powerful transistors that can be used in mobile phone base stations to give much greater ranges of transmission, and highly accurate lasers which could be used in surgery and dentistry.

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