Micron Request for $20 Million through DOE to Develop LED Business

Micron Technology is requesting for $20 million stimulus fund through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help the company expand into the LED industry and create new jobs in Idaho.

LEDs (Light-emitting diodes), which use one-seventh as much energy as conventional lighting and can last much longer, can be used in lamps and fixtures, municipal streetlights and outdoor lighting such as street lamps, traffic signals and auto lights.

Micron is seeking to get into the "high brightness" LED market, which an industry expert says did $5 billion in sales in 2008 and is expected to grow to $12.5 billion by 2013. The move could help the shrinking company diversify. Micron is laying off 2,000 people by August as it ends computer-chip manufacturing on its Boise campus.

Micron plans to begin work on prototype LED lighting modules in the next three months and produce the prototypes by the first half of 2010. Full production is expected by 2011.

The company's mass-manufacturing experience in semiconductors will allow it to dramatically lower the costs of LEDs by developing the same kind of output efficiencies that have made Micron a leader in its primary field: making dynamic random-access memory, said Mark Durcan, Micron's chief operating officer.

Micron already has hired engineers and marketing employees to work on LEDs and said it would leverage $150 million in existing investments in research and development, buildings, equipment, work force and intellectual property.

The state proposal is aimed only at Micron's LED business. "It's just that the LED business is ripe and ready," said Kjellander. Micron continues to work on developing a separate solar panel business and is also seeking additional stimulus money through the Department of Energy.

The Micron money would be part of the state's proposal for spending $37 million in energy funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Other money would go to energy-efficiency programs for schools and a pilot plant to install solar panel on five to 10 schools around the state. Energy-efficiency programs for cities and counties and funds to establish renewable-energy enterprise zones also are included.

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