They last for over 50 years, produce 7 times more lumens per watt than filament bulbs, and they avoid breakage and disposal dangers posed by mercury vapor. A 70-watt LED light costs $60, prohibitive for most people living on the grid. But soon the same LED light will cost $6, allowing huge home electricity savings and other applications:
Gallium Nitride (GaN), a man-made semiconductor used to make LEDs (light emitting diodes), emits brilliant light but uses very little electricity. Until now high production costs have made GaN lighting too expensive for wide spread use in homes and offices.And the rest.
However, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Cambridge University based Centre for Gallium Nitride has developed a new way of making GaN which could produce LEDs for a tenth of current prices.
GaN, grown in labs on expensive sapphire wafers since the 1990s, can now be grown on silicon wafers. This lower cost method could mean cheap mass produced LEDs become widely available for lighting homes and offices in the next five years.
Based on current results, GaN LED lights in every home and office could cut the proportion of UK electricity used for lights from 20% to 5%. That means we could close or not need to replace eight power stations.