One of the hurdles to taking LED lighting mainstream has been the high cost of creating white-light LEDs. Current manufacturing processes use a sapphire substrate as the base, which can be expensive.
Purdue University researchers have recently implemented a new process using a silicon base, with metallic layers stacked on top. This is good news because silicon is not only cheaper, but is heat conductive, which means that the LEDs can be left ON the silicon base, eliminating some costly extra manufacturing steps currently associated with sapphire grown LEDs which have to be removed from the sapphire base and attached to something more heat conductive. This also means that the LEDs will last longer.
There remain some flaws in the manufacturing process, but the researchers believe that they can be overcome fairly easily. Its possible that we could see LEDs made from the new process as early as a couple of years.
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