Get ready to buy your last light bulb ever

Plessey, for people of a certain age, is a name to conjure with and being of a certain age, well blow me down because the outfit is still going, albeit in a different form.

Michael Le Goff, the CEO of Plessey, told the audience at the forum in Dublin that his firm had acquired the assets of the company including some fabs, and saw a bright future in, er bright LEDs.

The company is in a joint venture with the University of Cambridge and is creating LEDs using GaN (Gallium Nitride) on silicon substrates. That, he said, will  create low cost LEDs so that lights will cost a fiver rather than £20 or £30.

Plessey is not the only company to take this approach. Samsung is developing GaN on Si, and so are Toshiba, Osram, TSMC.  

But, Le Goff asserted, Plessey is  first to market and is now developing its LED roadmap.  “Because we have our own fab and reactors we’re fully integrated,” he said.

The LED market will be worth $200 billion by 2020, amounting to half of the lighting market.

“The LED lamp is self-cannibalising because the lifetime is about 30 years. We’ll see LEDs embedded in our homes and people won’t need to screw bulbs into sockets,” he said.

“The lightbulb is a remnant of a 100 year old technology. There are massive opportunities in solid state lightning as the technology moves into the sub 20 nanometre area,” he said. Essentially, he concluded, when the tech is cheap enough, you’ll die before your lights die.

Plessey is looking to find a partner in China to take advantage of the large market.