UNIQUE Project Targets Industrial UV-LED Disinfection

Osram Opto Semiconductors is coordinating a project for developing UV LEDs for industrial disinfection called the UNIQUE project. Osram Opto points out that for some time UV light has been used to kill water-borne germs. However, mercury vapor lamps are still the predominately used light sources for UV disinfection because of their lower cost and higher power than UV-LEDs. The project with the acronym UNIQUE is funded through the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Media, Energy and Technology and sponsored by VDI/VDE/IT.

The project partners include five Bavarian companies and research institutions. The UNIQUE project intends to develop mercury-free, LED-based UVC high-power light sources that have wavelengths ranging from 260 to 280 nanometers for industrial disinfection. The potential applications for the technology range from domestic water purification to industrial disinfection of food packaging.

UNIQUE Project UV-C LEDs will use AlGaN

According to Osram Opto, the basis for the new UV-C LEDs will be aluminum gallium nitride, which the company says is a further development of the technology for white, blue or green indium gallium nitride LEDs that are frequently used. Osram Opto

Meeting the demands of producing high-power UV-C LEDs at low cost requires changes to the entire value added chain including developments in supporting material, technology, and production systems. 

Industry partner, Aprotec GmbH will design a special installation for producing aluminum nitride (AIN) volume crystals.
Aprotec will use a process of evaporating AlN powder at over 2000 °C.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology (IISB) will develop and optimize a process chain for fabricating AlN substrates. The process chain includes all the steps from the synthesis of high-purity AlN powder and the production of AlN crystals to the production of AlN substrates from the AlN crystals.

Osram Opto to Develop UV-C LEDs

Osram Opto Semiconductors plans to develop the UV-C LED chips with the related component epitaxy and processing on the AlN substrate. 

UV LED chips require the protection of a gas-tight package that provides a constant vacuum and creates a stable atmosphere for the chip.

SCHOTT AG in Landshut will be in charge of developing a permanently vacuum-tight package from inorganic UV-stable materials and evaluating the resulting structure and connections. Ultimately, Dr. Hönle AG will integrate the UV-C modules in a new disinfection system and conduct the relevant system tests.

 The project partners hope to develop a small, cost-effective, energy-efficient, mercury-free, long-life UV diode.

“Our many years of experience in the development of mass market opto semiconductor components will help make the UNIQUE project a success and contribute to bringing the prototype to market at a later date in volume production. Osram Opto Semiconductors is already active in the near UV range. UNIQUE will extend our portfolio into the deep UV range, specifically for disinfection applications,” said Dr. Hans-Jürgen Lugauer, head of UV development at Osram Opto Semiconductors.

The UNIQUE project, which has been under way for nearly a year is scheduled to run from July 2016 to June 2019.

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