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Thursday, April 12, 2012

LED lighting fixture maker Ephesus developing prototype chip with Group4 Labs

Original article source: SemiConductor Today Posted on Apr 12, 2012

LED lighting fixture maker Ephesus developing prototype chip with Group4 Labs. Ephesus Technologies LLC of Syracuse, NY, USA (a firm founded in June 2010 by former Lockheed Martin employees that designs and makes LED lighting fixtures for commercial and municipal markets) has partnered with Group4 Labs Inc of Fremont, CA to engineer and manufacture its own prototype LED chip as it aims to become vertically integrated.

With a manufacturing facility at the University of Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) Smart System Technology and Commercialization Center of Excellence (STC) in Canandaigua, NY, Group4 Labs develops and supplies ‘extreme materials’ that aim to improve the performance of gallium nitride (GaN)-based devices. The firm’s technology enables epitaxial GaN layers to be atomically attached (regardless of lattice mismatch) to a free-standing, proprietary chemical-vapor-deposited (CVD) synthetic polycrystalline diamond substrate, providing GaN-on-diamond epiwafers.

Ephesus initially resided in Syracuse University’s Center for Advanced Systems and Engineering (CASE Center). The firm now has 16 staff and is based in the Syracuse Technology Garden (with a manufacturing location at Ansen Corp in Ogdensburg, NY), but plans to re-locate to Baldwinsville in Central New York as it expands.

The EG4 is reckoned to be the first LED to be completely developed and manufactured in New York State. Ephesus says that development was aided by upstate New York’s research and manufacturing strengths in the regional innovation cluster related to clean technologies and through collaboration with upstate New York academic institutions and several New York Centers of Excellence (CoE).

In February, Ephesus received a $50,000 grant from the SyracuseCoE Commercialization Assistance Program (CAP), which was established in partnership with Syracuse-based CenterState CEO (Corporation for Economic Opportunity, formerly the Metropolitan Development Association) and Empire State Development (ESD) with grants received under the auspices of New York Assemblyman William Magnarelli. The firm also received a $1m tax incentive from the ESD. STC provided support and infrastructure to enable Group4 Labs to produce demonstration LEDs as a first step toward the development of super-bright LEDs.

Ephesus has also benefited from the New York Energy Regional Innovation Cluster (NYE-RIC) – a consortium led by Syracuse University in partnership with City University of New York (CUNY), NYSTAR (New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research), and the State University of New York (SUNY) Research Foundation. NYE-RIC’s ‘Bridge to Markets’ program – funded by SyracuseCoE and NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority), and conducted in collaboration with CenterState CEO – connects New York state firms that have developed innovative products for advanced buildings with the diverse and critical stakeholders in the target market of New York City.

Existing Ephesus LED lighting products target a broad range of applications, including warehouses, manufacturing facilities, parking lots/garages, roadways, stadiums, tunnels and bridges. Currently, fixtures are produced in New York State using LED chips from third-party companies, and the LED array comprises over 47% of the cost of the entire Ephesus lighting fixture. By developing its own LED chip, Ephesus aims to cut the cost of its LED fixtures by 30%. 

“Our EG4 LED chip will be commercialized through small-scale production and be demonstrated and used in Ephesus lighting fixtures,” says CEO Amy Casper. Ephesus reckons that the EG4 will differentiate its products from other LED-based products and allow it to capture more market share in the LED fixture market.

“This new chip can meet a rapidly growing demand for highly efficient lighting and smart lighting technology,” reckons CenterState CEO’s president Robert Simpson. “For our region, this will result in new jobs and investment, and offer further evidence that our collective effort to create a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem is paying real dividends,” he adds.

Other organizations involved with Ephesus in developing the technology include Alfred University, American Dicing, Ansen Corp., Binghamton University, Clarkson University, Clean Tech Center, Cornell University, Lighting Research Center, LINC, Onondaga County Economic Development, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Syracuse University, and the Tech Garden. 

"The state’s partnership with Ephesus Technologies is a great example of what can be accomplished through collaboration between the private-sector, academia and government,” comments Jim Fayle, Central New York regional director with Empire State Development. “The success of this home-grown small business will create much-needed jobs and generate significant economic activity for Upstate New York,” he adds.