Technology that first appeared in digital watches and calculators back in the 1970s is being used to develop durable and community-friendly low energy street lighting.
Researchers at The University of Manchester have joined forces with Dialight Lumidrives - founded by a successful former student - to develop powerful low-cost LED lighting modules that can be used in buildings and on roads.
Academics in The School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering will draw on their expertise to investigate how tightly packed groups of LEDs can be made to work safely and reliably.
Lighting solutions that use LEDs have the potential to reduce energy consumption by between 25 and 50 per cent, depending on the application.
But thermal and electrical issues at lighting levels of 12,000 lumens and above - a typical 60w household light bulb produces about 800 lumens - are barriers to the wider adoption of LED technology.
Engineers will be working with York-based Dialight Lumidrives to tackle tough issues such as the amount of heat generated by LEDs packed closely together.
As the LED modules will be used outside, academics will need to consider environmental factors, such as the possibility of a bird nesting over a vital heatsink.
Another hurdle will be the regulations that govern things like glare and light pollution, and engineers say that directing LED light sources onto the required area will be a challenge.
The one-year project has been funded with a 175,000 grant from the Department of Trade and Industry-led Technology Programme. Dialight Lumidrives is contributing another 175,000 to the scheme.
A key aim of the project is to develop a solution that is very reliable but not prohibitively expensive.
Dr Roger Shuttleworth from the Power Conversion Group at The University of Manchester, said: "LED technology first came to prominence in instrument displays back in the 1970s, but
Contact: Alex Waddington
University of Manchester