HexaTech, a spinout based on research into aluminum nitrides at North Carolina State University, is getting a $2 million funding boost from the federal government.

The company, which is backed by Intersouth Partners in Durham and other investors, has won a $2 million award for the development of light emitting diodes that can be used as ultraviolet light cleaners of water.

Intersouth’s John Glushik has called HexaTech a “multi-billion dollar opportunity” in the semiconductor space with its aluminum nitride (AIN) substrate technology.

HexaTech received the award to develop the LEDs even though it has yet to develop a commercial product. The publication compoundsemiconductor.net reported Tuesday that the LED project will launch in November and development of AIN substrates would continue.

Liquidia Technologies, another Triangle-based startup, and HexaTech received $2 million awards through the Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, program. NIST is designed to encourage innovative research and development.

The award not only validates HexaTech’s technology but also will “let us do some things sooner than we otherwise would,” Chief Executive Officer Jim LeMunyon told compound semiconductor.net.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sees UV-LEDs as an alternative to UV fluorescent tubes as a means of treating wastewater, LeMunyon told the publication.

“The opportunity in this industry is to basically remove the tube and replace it with solid state,” he said.

HexaTech landed $8.9 million in Series A funding in late 2005 from Intersouth and other investors. The company launched in 2001.