Enterprise expands with cutting-edge LED chips
A worker tests products at Zhongke Lu'an's laboratory. [Photo by Li Jiaming for China Daily]
The mention of LED, or light emission diode, usually reminds people of devices that emit lights of multiple colors such as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
The lights are visible because they have wavelengths between 400 and 700 nanometers.
But Zhongke Lu'an, an integrated circuit chips company based in the city of Changzhi in Shanxi province, is producing other kinds of LED products.
Its newly developed deep ultraviolet LED has played a crucial role in the prevention and control of COVID-19.
Deep ultraviolet LED, emitting invisible light that features wavelengths between 200 and 350 nm, can inhibit the spread of bacteria and viruses by changing their genetic DNA and RNA structures, said Chen Peng, a Zhongke Lu'an executive in charge of LED production.
"Our company launched the world's first plant for the mass production of deep ultraviolet LED chips and lighting devices in July 2019, just months before the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak," Chen said.
"In the past, hospitals mainly used lights containing mercury for disinfection," Chen added. "However, the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which became effective in August 2017, prohibited the use of mercury because it's a heavy pollutant and a poisonous heavy metal."
China joined the convention last year, banning the production and import of products that contain mercury.
"Our environmentally friendly and energy-saving deep ultraviolet LED products are an ideal substitute for the mercury-filled lights in hospitals," Chen said.
Zhongke Lu'an has an annual production capacity of 30 million deep ultraviolet LED chips. However, the output cannot meet global market demand, according to Cui Yongqiang, deputy general manager of the company.
Cui said the company is planning to build a second-phase project for the product with an annual capacity of 300 million chips.
Zhongke Lu'an is a subsidiary of Lu'an Group, one of the leading coal-mining companies in China.
Following Shanxi's recent campaign to transform its economy from one that is dominated by coal to a new model featuring multiple areas of growth, Lu'an has diversified its operations in recent years. The company has branched out to such sectors as new energy, chemicals, semiconductors and LED chips. Zhongke Lu'an is a large part of those diversification efforts.
Li Jiaming contributed to this story.