A light emitting diode having a metallized silicon substrate including a silicon base, a buffer layer disposed on the silicon base, a metal layer disposed on the buffer layer, and light emitting layers disposed on the metal layer. The buffer layer can be AlN, and the metal layer ZrN. The light emitting layers can include GaN and InGaN. The metallized silicon substrate can also include an oxidation prevention layer disposed on the metal layer. The oxidation prevention layer can be AlN. The light emitting diode can be formed using an organometallic vapor phase epitaxy process. The intermediate ZrN/AlN layers enable epitaxial growth of GaN on silicon substrates using conventional organometallic vapor phase epitaxy. The ZrN layer provides an integral back reflector, ohmic contact to n-GaN. The AlN layer provides a reaction barrier, thermally conductive interface layer, and electrical isolation layer.