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LED firm is leading light at British Engineering Excellence Awards

Amit Katwala

(Credit: iStock)
(Credit: iStock)

Plessey Semiconductor has been named the winner of the Grand Prix prize at the 2017 British Engineering Excellence Awards in London.

The company has developed high power LEDs that provide 30% more light than competing devices, with better thermal performance and at half the cost. The Plymouth-based company is the only one that makes ‘GaN-on-Si’ LEDs, using gallium nitride with silicon instead of the usual sapphire.

This allows larger LEDs to be made more easily, without the tell-tale ‘cross-hair’ mark that sapphire-based ones have due to using multiple dies.

“Choosing the Grand Prix winner is always tough and sometimes creates heated debate amongst the Judges,” said Eric Wilkinson, chairman of the judges and CEO of Cambridge Consultants.

“This year the Judges felt that designing a better LED is the latter-day equivalent of designing the better mouse trap. While LEDs can save energy, they bring design challenges. By developing a Gallium Nitride-on-silicon process, Plessey is now showing the way forward and deserves special recognition as a shining example of British Engineering Excellence.”

There were a number of other prizes awarded during the ceremony, including small company of the year, which went to materials company Diamond Hard Surfaces, and start-up of the year, which was awarded to robotic prosthetics firm Open Bionics.

The New Product of the Year (Mechanical) prize went to Aeristech’s sCharger – an electrically driven supercharger that can improve the performance of small engines.

The full list of winners is available at


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