R&D tie-up with University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) to spur evolution of Malaysian LED Sector


CREST, the non-profit company created by the industry, government and academiato drive the initiative to accelerate Malaysia’s electrical and electronics sector, has announced a research and development collaboration with UCSB that will help the country’s LED sector move up the value chain.

KUALA LUMPUR, 18 December 2014 — Malaysia has long had a thriving LED sector, pioneered by Hewlett Packard in Penang since 1970s. Today, that industry consists of many SMEs as well as large multinational corporations such as Osram Optoelectronics and Philips Lumiled.

“Not many people realise this but Malaysia is among the largest in the world for LED manufacturing. However, much of our strength is what is referred to as back-end like packaging and not so much of the front-end, which is of higher value. Now it is time to move up the value chain and this very important collaboration with UCSB will provide the needed thrust for that to happen,” says Dato’ Azman Mahmud, Chairman of CREST and Chief Executive Officer of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA).

The initial idea for the tie-up was first mooted late last year when a small team from UCSB was invited to pay a visit to CREST. Three UCSB professors – Dr. Shuji Nakamura (2014 Nobel Prize Winner for Physics); Dr. Steven P. Denbaars, Director of the Solid State Lighting Energy Centre; and Dr James Speck of the Materials Department – met up with CREST CEO Jaffri Ibrahim, who discussed with them collaboration opportunities.

CREST-UCSB Press Conference at CREST Symposium 2014 (18 December 2014)

(from left to right) UCSB professors – Dr James Speck and Dr Shuji Nakamura, Chairman of CREST and CEO of MIDA Dato’ Azman Mahmud, CEO of CREST Jaffri Ibrahim, and another UCSB professor Dr Steven Denbaars

In just over a year, that collaboration has come to pass. “We want to strengthen and improve our LED industry by collaborating with UCSB to develop the next generation of LED technology or what Shuji Nakamura calls as LED2.0,” says Jaffri, in announcing the collaboration with America’s – and indeed, the world’s – leading research institute for LED. “It’s not just technical knowledge we are looking for but also the methodology and culture that has allowed UCSB to be more than a typical academia-type research centre but one that is more in tune with industry needs.”

The collaboration will be a three-way partnership involving academia (UCSB, USM, UM, UNIMAP and Monash University Malaysia), the industry (various players currently already involved in LED manufacturing) and the government (by way of CREST).

The focus of the collaboration will be on epitaxial development (when additional layers of semiconductor crystals are grown on the surface of the wafer), an area UCSB is well-known for.

“We will be sending some researchers over to UCSB and they will also be sending some post-doctoral researchers here,” says Chin Fung Wei, head of market engagement at CREST. “There will be knowledge transfer both ways. We have plenty to learn from UCSB, especially in epitaxial growth, but because of Malaysia’s well-established LED manufacturing capabilities, especially for back-end processes, we have some knowledge and experience to share with them too.”

This unique, three-way collaboration is expected to spur the evolution of Malaysia’s already thriving LED industry, allowing it to move up the value chain. This is something the industry wants and something the government wishes to promote as well. It is an exciting new chapter for the country’s LED sector.

For more information, please contact:

Mr CHIN Fung Wei
Tel: +604 652 0088
Fax: +604 652 0099
Email: fungwei@crest.my