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  • Strathclyde Spinout to Make microLEDs
Jul 2010
STRATHCLYDE, England, July 24, 2010 — The University of Strathclyde has secured a spinout deal to form a company working in the field of novel next-generation light source technology, which could open up a range of opportunities in multibillion-dollar applications, including neuroscience, microscopy and communications.

mLED Ltd. specializes in micro light-emitting diodes (microLEDs), devices made up of thousands of tiny emitters producing light in a compact, integrated package. Unlike other microdisplay technologies, microLEDs are dense arrays of miniature light sources that are pattern-programmable and do not require a plethora of external components, such as optics and switching matrices, to modulate the light pattern, thereby making them more compact and efficient.

 Pictured left to right with an array of microLEDs licensed by mLED are the following: Dr. Jim Bonar, chief executive of mLED; professor Martin Dawson, director of research of the Institute of Photonics at the University of Strathclyde; and Dr. Erdan Gu, associate director of the institute.

Braveheart Investment Group led the £150,000 ($230,000) funding round into mLED, investing via both the Strathclyde Innovation Fund and the Alpha EIS Fund. Scottish Enterprise’s Scottish Seed Fund also participated.

“This is a very exciting international area of technology, but there are only a few companies in the world which have recognized the opportunity and demonstrated capability in this area. We are producing a platform technology that is compact, robust, reliable and versatile,” said Dr. Jim Bonar, mLED’s chief executive.

“MicroLEDs have particularly strong potential for evolving life science markets such as neuroscience and for the emerging telecoms market of pico projectors, as well as for printing, microscopy and next-generation general lighting arrangements. The power density, versatility and compactness of microLEDs makes them ideally suited for these applications.

“Each of the microLEDs has enough light output to affect other materials, allowing actions such as the active illumination and stimulation of cells. They also have a switching speed fast enough for use in communications or in fluorescence lifetime imaging, which can be used to study cells. We have demonstrator kits available for sale so that developers can see if the microLEDs fit with their own innovative applications – we aim to be delivering to customers very soon,” Bonar said.

Shown is an array of microLEDs licensed by mLED.

The technology has been developed at Strathclyde’s Institute of Photonics by a research team led by Dr. Martin Dawson, director of research; Dr. Erdan Gu, associate director; and Dr. Gareth Valentine, research technologist, all of whom will act as consultants to mLED.

“We have had great pleasure in supporting Jim Bonar in the creation of mLED. He has a wealth of experience in photonics startups, and we believe the company has the potential to be a market leader in the photonics sector, which offers exciting research and business opportunities worldwide,” said Simon Andrews, business development manager at the Institute of Photonics.

“The institute recognized some time ago that microLEDs were a very promising area of technology, and considerable research investment was made by public sources while we continued to develop the equipment. Research in new areas will carry on, and we look forward to working with mLED in bringing this advancing technology to rapidly expanding marketplaces,” Andrews added.

The spinout of mLED follows the recent launch of SU2P, a Strathclyde-led partnership between academic institutions in Scotland and California, capitalizing on the academic and commercial strengths of the photonics sector.

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The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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