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Zinc oxide light emitting diode

We are looking for a LED manufacturer to collaborate on further testing of the process with a view to licensing the technology. It is likely that a collaborative project will be able to apply for Australia Research Council funding.

Contact our IP Commercialisation Business Development Manager:

Roger Plumb
Tel: +61 8 9266 4925

Summary of technology

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are semiconductor devices that are the basis of the rapidly growing markets of solid state lighting and electronic display screens in phones, computers and televisions. The predominant material for these devices is gallium nitride (GaN).

It has already been recognised that zinc oxide (ZnO) offers the potential for greater efficiency LEDs, producing  the same amount of visible light with less power consumption. However until now there has been no robust and reliable process for producing “p-type” ZnO, which is vital for a working product.

This innovation takes existing nuclear technology already used for treating silicon on a commercial basis, and applies it to ZnO instead. It uses isotopically pure ZnO coupled with neutron transmutation doping to produce p-type ZnO.


  • ZnO LEDs can provide domestic and commercial lighting with lower operating costs and reduced environmental impact.
  • Reduced power consumption and hence extended battery life in mobile devices.
  • The production process is based on a proven approach to doping silicon, hence has reduced technical risk.


Professor Charlie Ironside from the School of Electrical Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences has 30 years experience in nano and microfabrication of optoelectronic devices. Associate Professor Nigel Marks, also from the school, has the necessary experience in nuclide technology.

Stage of development

The technology is at the scientific proof of concept stage – isotopically enriched ZnO nanorods have been irradiated, and it has been confirmed that the p-type dopant copper has been produced in ZnO.

Intellectual property

Intellectual property is owned by Curtin University. There is the potential to patent many aspects of the process.