Startup works with NASA to develop low mass lighting
8/8/2012 8:16 AM EDT
LONDON – NthDegree Technologies Worldwide Inc. (Tempe, Ariz.), a startup company working on inorganic printed and flexible semiconductors for lighting, photovoltaics and energy storage, has signed an agreement with NASA for the development of a "low mass, low power" light source.
The light source will make use of innovative semiconductor inks from NthDegree and NASA has performed testing on the Nth Light, a product from NthDegree, to assess the safety and non-toxicity of the technology to meet space travel requirements, NthDegree disclosed on its website.
NthDegree claims it has invented a method of transferring proprietary semiconductor inks to a substrate, According to the NthDegree's website the inks contain functional devices such as diodes and transistors made using conventional wafer fabrication. NthDegree has patented a process whereby these inks can be made "functional" and printed using standard high-speed printing presses.
At the Society for Information Display (SID) conference and exhibition in June the company described a solid state lighting (SSL) device based upon a standard
InGaN heteroepitaxy and fabricated as micro LEDs dispersed in an ink
binder. The approach could be a template for further development of inks
and techniques that employ fabricated silicon or III-V semiconductors.
authors claim that economies of scale are possible with this approach.
As an example, they cite that printing at 75 meters per minute with a
single 60-centimeters wide flexographic press for 20 hours per day for 300 days
per year yields about 250 million A-19 light bulb equivalents. Such A-19
bulb replacements should have a retail cost that is similar to existing
CFL bulbs, the authors claim.
By creating functional electronics through printing NthDegree aims to bypass the device packaging step. Printing a sea of components on to substrates also extends form factors and functionality.
On its website NthDegree states it has developed a light panel that measures 60 centimeters by 120 centimeters and produces 5000 lumens with an integrated 100-watt power supply. The light is designed as a replacement for fluorescent lighting and provides a wide range of color temperatures and 50,000 hours life.
The company is also developing a thin-film photovoltaic device made of silicon balls that it claims is competitive in efficiency to conventional solar panels.