The Chinese government views the growth of the LED industry as a national security matter. As a result, it is driving a vast LED manufacturing effort and offering subsidies from central and local government agencies to help build its own LED industry. In 2010, China embarked on an ambitious “Many Cities, Many Lights” program for streetlamp lighting to help its own LED industry. China has been in the LED bulb business for more than a decade but has more recently concentrated its efforts to acquire LED growth and manufacturing know-how.

Chinese local government agencies have anointed companies like Xiamen SanAn Photoelectric Co. and Electro-Tech International Co. Ltd., offering subsidies to purchase metal-oxide chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) technology, offering free land and other incentives for the establishment of LED plants and companies.

The Chinese government questions the need for 50,000-hour lifetimes being pursued elsewhere and believes a lower figure is more practical for applications requiring medium-output to low-output LED bulbs. It has been writing its own standards and testing methodologies for shorter-lifetime LEDs.

Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc. (AMEC), China’s leading provider of advanced process technology for LEDs, offers dielectric and through-silicon via (TSV) etch tools. Two months ago, it launched an MOCVD platform for the low-cost, high-volume manufacture of high-brightness LEDs, the patented Prismo D-Blue, which is extendable to the manufacture of gallium-nitride (GaN) on silicon applications. It can accommodate up to four independently controlled reactors and can process up to 216 2-in. wafers simultaneously. According to the company, this capability is extendable to 4-, 6-, and 8-in. wafers.

“The solid-state lighting market is an essential element of our growth strategy,” says Zhiyou Di, sensor vice president and general manager of AMEC’s MOCVD product business division.

China’s Chongquing Silian Optoelectronics & Technology Co. Ltd., an established supplier of materials, devices, and systems for the lighting industry, is partnering with Soitec, a European manufacturer of semiconductor materials, to jointly develop GaN template wafers using Silian’s sapphire substrate and Soitec’s HVPE technology. The aim is to validate the manufacturability and commercialization of GaN-based LEDs, which are viewed as the next step in LED development.