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2014-10-29
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Editorial: Still Plenty of LED/Lighting Breakthroughs Left
 
... For many in the LED industry who have watched, and lived, the steady march of technology for the last decade, it's pretty easy to get jaded about the technology. Not in a bad way, but just a bored kind of one. "Let me guess," they say, "next year we'll...
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Commentary...
Still Plenty of LED/Lighting Breakthroughs Left

 
... For many in the LED industry who have watched, and lived, the steady march of technology for the last decade, it's pretty easy to get jaded about the technology. Not in a bad way, but just a bored kind of one. "Let me guess," they say, "next year we'll...

View the full story at the bottom of the current news page, or if this is a back issue, go here...

Luminus launches 1W SMD LED with 170° Emission Angle
LIGHTimes News Staff

October 28, 2014...Luminus Devices Inc based in Billerica, Massachusetts, USA, has launched the XNOVA Cube, a 1 watt SMD LED with a 170° viewing angle. Luminus contends that the XNOVA Cube improves system efficacy, reduces cost, and simplifies omni-directional products.

Unlike traditional mid-power LEDs, which Luminus says were originally designed for LCD backlighting, Luminus designed the XNOVA Cube specifically for illumination applications requiring high quality of light. The small 1.9mm by 1.9mm package has a 170 degree viewing angle, which the company claims is the widest in the industry. Luminus claims that the XNOVA cube emits more light than any mid-power LED.

“The XNOVA Cube has opened-up new design options for our customers in the highly competitive panel lighting, linear and omni-directional lamp markets,” said Jim Miller, executive VP of sales & marketing. “They are able to reduce LED count by as much as 30% and at the same time cut power consumption by 10%, which enables further cost reductions in drivers, thermal systems, and optical components.”

Luminus Devices is exhibiting its XNOVA illumination product line at the Hong Kong International Lighting Fair (27-30 October).

MeU Launches Wearable and App-Controllable LED Display
LIGHTimes News Staff

October 28, 2014...MeU of Toronto, Canada, announced the launch of its wearable LED display, the MeU Square. A smartphone application can mange MeU Square, which the company designed for customizing clothing and accessories. MeU Square, a square 16 by 16 grid of RGB LEDs allows the user to display any pattern, image, or text to instantly communicate with people who can see the display. .

"We seek to improve communication with our surroundings, including important alerts and updates that you may not get otherwise, like when the next bus is coming," said Robert Tu, CEO and founder of MeU. "The display is a great combination of function and design. The display's open-source technology sets no limits to the designer's creativity across many applications and is the perfect platform for the maker and developer communities."

The MeU team is working on developing applications for fashion, marketing, cycling, and urban informatics. MeU says cyclists can display a flashing pattern or other signals on their backs to communicate with other road users. A group hike leader can keep participants informed or a construction worker can wear a blinking patternto help alert those passing by of potentially unsafe conditions.

The company says that the ability to display public transit updates on the vests of employees or receive weather alerts from pedestrians can help the city to run smoother. Having been featured in Toronto's first men's fashion week, the product can also portray a dynamic fashion statement.

The full-color LED matrix display consists of 256 LEDs, a microcontroller, and a Bluetooth radio that enables wireless communication with other devices. The company contends that the thin and flexible panel conforms to the body and can be worn with any style of clothing. After downloading the smartphone app, the user can choose from existing icons and animations or create their own content to send to the LED display.

"We're looking for tech savvy developers, who are open to working with the initial developer kit," added Tu. "The kit includes the MeU Square, a rechargeable battery, a micro USB cable, and the MeU Demo Mobile App."

The MeU Square will be available for pre-order for $270 USD.

Bridgelux Launches New Chip-on-Board LED Arrays with "Human Centric" Design Approach
LIGHTimes News Staff

October 28, 2014...Bridgelux of Livermore, California USA, will debut its new Vero® Decor Series™ Class A Chip-on-Board (CoB) LED array products at the Hong Kong International Lighting Fair 2014. The launch of the Decor Series Class A arrays marks Bridgelux's new "human-centric" approach to product development and color targeting. The company has started looking at a relatively new metric called the Gamut Area Index along with the Color Rendering Index.

The Gamut Area Index (GAI) in short measures how light and color appeal to and are perceived by the human brain. GAI (Gamut Area Index). The gamut area of a light source is that area enclosed by a polygon within a chromaticity diagram. The greater the separation among the selected points, the greater the gamut area. The Gamut Area Index is the difference between the Gamut Area of a specific light source and a reference light source.

The company contends that while CRI only measures color distortion, the Gamut Area Index (GAI) measures color saturation and strength to more accurately reflect the holistic effect of light and how a person will perceive color. Bridgelux says its Decor Series Class A arrays are engineered at the optimal GAI and CRI combination based on human perception of light.

The company says it will make the arrays available through global channels in mid-November.

Bridgelux says that the new Decor Series Class A arrays are the first products to use the full Class A Color specification from the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Alliance for Solid-State Illumination Systems and Technologies (ASSIST).

In a long term study with funding from ASSIST, researchers at the LRC developed what they call, Class A Color. The study examined preferences in color rendering and how people perceive white light sources along with the white hue or tint of the light source. Bridgelux reportedly developed prototype lamps based on the Class A Color spectral requirements for the LRC to use in field evaluations.

"Class A Color has been broadly tested and 'tuned' to ensure the most pleasing blend of naturalness and vividness based on subjective human perceptions," said Jean Paul Freyssinier, senior research scientist at the Lighting Research Center. "A majority (75 percent) of those tested from around the world agree that Class A Color light sources provide the best color rendering and optimum saturation levels. It's consistent lighting that won't disappoint."

Bridgelux insists that Class A colors are inherently more vivid and whites are their whitest due to a broader spectrum of colors and saturation.

According to Bridgelux, the Decor Series of Class A LED Arrays achieve a balance of color properties that match how people perceive color to provide superior color quality. Bridgelux further asserts that the arrays provide a better return on investment when compared to traditional halogen and ceramic metal halide bulbs.

Decor Series Class A LEDs boast 30 percent less energy consumption, 70 percent less heat generated, and have a projected lifetime of about 20 times longer than halogen or metal halide light sources.

In retail settings, Decor Series Class A LED arrays appeal to people's natural perception of light, helping to drive improved aesthetics, increased visits, customer purchases, and revenue per square foot.

"The launch of our Decor Series Class A LED arrays is a game changer for Bridgelux, our customers and the industry," said Brad Bullington, CEO of Bridgelux. "Light has the power to influence how people behave, what they purchase, their productivity and their mood. Our new human-centric approach harnesses that potential to help our customers create custom light experiences that deliver great aesthetics and a tangible financial impact."

Bridgelux Vero Decor Series Class A arrays will be available in 4000 K and 3000 K CCT. They are designed for applications including high-end retail, hospitality, museums and commercial spaces.

St. Paul Baseball Team to Get Daktronics Equipment at New Park
LIGHTimes News Staff

October 28, 2014...The St. Paul Saints baseball team out of Saint Paul, Minnesota USA, has contracted Daktronics of Brookings, South Dakota. Under the contract, Daktronics will design, manufacture and install a new video display and scoreboard at their new field, CHS Field. The St. Paul Saints will be opening their inaugural season next year at CHS Field. The Saints plan to have this project completed later this fall.

"We've had a longstanding relationship with Daktronics in St. Paul and with several other of our clubs in The Goldklang Group. Daktronics' products and services are second-to-none and have come to play a big part in the fun we try to create at every game. The displays at CHS Field are a perfect complement to what will be the best baseball experience in North America," according to Tom Whaley, Saints' Executive Vice-President.

The main video display for the team will measure about 49 feet wide by 27.5 feet high and will feature a 15HD pixel layout. Daktronics will install the display in left-center field. In addition to sponsor advertisements, scoring information, and game statistics, the display can show vivid graphics as well as colorful animations and images. Daktronics says that displays will have multiple levels of protection from the elements.

"Daktronics is excited to extend our relationship with the St. Paul Saints, and to partner on the CHS Field project," said sales representative Joey Hulsebus. "This innovated ball park will be an exciting addition to the Lowertown community. The Daktronics products will assist in developing a new game-day experience for the Saints fans."

The Saints will also be receiving a fixed-digit scoreboard that will display basic baseball information such as pitch count, at bat, hits, and errors.

The Saints will also receive a bank of hours for the creation of digital content that Daktronics Creative Services will produce and deliver. This content will consist of any mixture of sponsorship messages, crowd prompts, headshots, game opens and venue announcements at the request of the Saints.

Cree Lowers System Costs with New SC5 Platform and XBH50 LED
LIGHTimes News Staff

October 23, 2014...Cree, Inc. has introduced an LED with the company's SC5 Technology™ Platform. The new platform powers the company's Extreme High Power (XHP) LEDs. As with their previous LED developments, Cree has begun approaching LEDs not as the biggest contributor to the cost of a lighting system, but as one of several contributors including the heatsink and the optics. This approach has lead Cree to create smaller and brighter LEDs that operate at higher temperatures. The approach has further lead Cree to develop its XHB50, which the company says doubles light output and greatly lowers system cost. Cree claims its new class of LEDs can reduce system costs by up to 40 percent in most lighting applications.

The SC5 platform and the new class of LEDs use the company's silicon carbide technology. Silicon carbide allows the LEDs to operate at higher temperature (up to 105 degrees C). At the same time, the new LED has double the light output of previous iterations with the same efficiency, but in the same footprint. The LED on silicon carbide that can run at higher temperatures does not need as large of a heatsink. This translates to lower cost for the heatsink. Furthermore, the higher output and higher lumen density means that fewer LEDs are needed for each application, and these take up less PCB space and have a lower PCB mounting cost (because there are fewer). In turn, this translates to smaller and less expensive optics.

Cree says its advancements in epitaxial structure and chip architecture go into the SC5 platform. The XHP50 runs on either 6- or 12-Volts, and has a new solder pad layout that allows either 6- or 12-volt operation without additional circuitry.

The first of the new class of LEDs is the XBH50. The XBH50 has an L90 of 50,000 hours. According to Cree, the longer projected lifetime comes from the LED's ability to operate at up to 105 degrees C. The XHP50 LED delivers up to 2250 lumens at 19 watts from a 5.0x5.0 mm package. Cree contends that at its maximum current, the XHP50 provides twice the light output of the industry’s brightest single-die LED, the XLamp XM-L2 LED, at a similar lumens per watt and without increasing the package footprint.

Chuck Swoboda, Cree chairman and CEO said, “The SC5 Technology™ Platform redefines what is possible in high-power LEDs by doubling the lumens out of a single LED, giving lighting manufacturers the flexibility to innovate significantly lower cost systems. This new platform establishes a new benchmark for LED lumens per wafer, which we believe will define the long-term success of our industry. This also validates our belief that high-power LED technology enables the best lighting system designs and a better lighting experience for end customers.”

“LEDs are no longer the most expensive portion of an LED lighting system, but they fundamentally determine the overall system performance and cost,” said Dave Emerson, vice president and general manager for Cree LEDs. “While other LED manufacturers only promise incrementally lower LED cost, our new Extreme High Power (XHP) LEDs leveraging the SC5 Technology™ Platform directly address the increased burden that thermal, mechanical and optical elements now place on total system cost.”

GaN LEDs in Automotive to Reach $1 Billion in 2014, According to IHS
LIGHTimes News Staff

October 23, 2014...The LED Intelligence Service of IHS Technology (IHS) predicts that the market for GaN packaged LEDs in automotive applications will reach the $1 billion mark this year for the first time. IHS forecasts that industry revenue will grow 11 percent from $943 million in 2013 to $1.05 billion in 2014. IHS contends that the growth comes from vehicle exterior applications such as headlamps and daytime running lights, where LED penetration is still low.

However, IHS notes that the LED value per vehicle can be quite high. Osram, Nichia and Lumileds are ranked by IHS as the market's leading three suppliers, and IHS says they are particularly dominant in vehicle exterior applications.

Audi has been a leader in using LEDs in its vehicles (especially in daytime running lights) since 2008, according to IHS, and many other manufacturers have followed the trend to using more LEDs in automotive applications. IHS points out however that many vehicles even at the high end of the market such as the $100,000 Tesla Model S, still do not use LED headlamps. Moreover, daytime running lights, cornering lights and indoor ambient lights are only available as an option rather than as standard. IHS forecasts that LED lighting should increase in vehicles over the next several years, growing further to $1.3 billion in 2018.

Research Association Produces Prototype LED with 256 Light Points for Adaptive Front Lighting Systems
LIGHTimes News Staff

October 23, 2014...Osram Opto Semiconductors reports that after just one and a half years, the company and its partners on the µAFS research project have developed a new LED chip with an unrivaled array of 256 light points (pixels). Previously pixel systems were based on a large number of individual LEDs. Funding for the project, a total of seven million euros, comes from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of its focus on “Integrated Microphotonics”. The project will run until January 31, 2016.

The project's goal is the development of a new class of energy-efficient LED headlamps which may then provide the basis for adaptive front lighting systems. The project intends to design systems that will improve the illumination of the road ahead through actively adapting the light distribution for the driving and traffic situation without dazzling other road users.

Experts from Osram Opto Semiconductors, Osram Specialty Lighting, Infineon Technologies and the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM jointly developed a prototype of an LED-based adaptive front lighting system.

Previous adaptive front lighting systems (AFS) have one pixel corresponding to one LED component or one chip. However, in this prototype one chip contains 256 pixels, which can all be individually controlled. Osram Opto notes that the 256 pixels per chip prototype is the first step to light sources with more than 1000 pixels. Osram Opto Semiconductors developed the new pixel chip with defined light patterns in blue and white . According to Osram Opto, the challenge was to define the light points during chip processing itself and enable them to be linked directly with the control system. Infineon Technologies developed the driver chip to directly and individually control the numerous light points. As the specialist in mounting technology, Fraunhofer IZM made it possible to couple the light-emitting pixel chip with the controlling driver chip.

Osram Opto Semiconductors structured the chip surface and attached the converter for creating white light to complete the prototype. This demonstrator proves the feasibility of having a particularly high resolution, which is needed to enable the dynamically adjustable light pattern with a high degree of precision. Osram Opto Semiconductor contends that the technology in the prototype will open up special automotive lighting options such as city lights and bad weather lights.

In one of the next steps, the Osram Specialty Lighting business unit, intends to transfer the prototype to a light module with electrical, mechanical and thermal interfaces. Future goals of the project include developing intelligent control and an appropriate connection to the vehicle bus to ensure extremely fine control of the light.

µAFS project partners Hella, the automotive lighting specialist, and Daimler, the car manufacturer, will then take over. Hella is responsible for the development of the optical system and the thermal management system, including the design of the complete headlight. Daimler has already contributed specifications and requirements for the bus connection and optics within the project, and is responsible for detailed testing of the headlamp and therefore for the final process.

Styron Launches New Plastic Resins for LED Lighting
LIGHTimes News Staff

October 23, 2014...Styron, a materials company based in Berwyn, Pennsylvania showcased its plastics for the LED Lighting industry during Strategies in Light Europe 2014 at the M.O.C. Event Center in Munich, Germany from October 21–23, 2014. The company is also launching its EMERGE 8830 Advanced Resins. Styron claims that its EMERGE 8830 resins balance transparency, flame retardancy and thickness, enabling thinner gauge applications. The material is UL94 rated V-0 at 1.0mm and 5VA at 2.5mm.

Styron offers other resins including transparent, light diffusion and ignition resistant grades used in lenses, optics, diffusers, reflectors and housings.

Styron previously announced plans to change the name of all Styron affiliated companies to Trinseo. Styron companies that have not completed this process will continue to do business as Styron until their respective name changes are complete. Styron's operating companies also continue to do business as Styron at this time.

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Commentary & Perspective...

Still Plenty of LED/Lighting Breakthroughs Left
Commentary Staff

October 17, 2014...For many in the LED industry who have watched, and lived, the steady march of technology for the last decade, it's pretty easy to get jaded about the technology. Not in a bad way, but just a bored kind of one. "Let me guess," they say, "next year we'll be able to pack 15% more lumens in the same space, at 10% better efficacy and 9% lower cost per lumen." The numbers vary from year to year, and person to person, but it seems rather ho-hum at times. Admittedly, tech folks are thrill junkies, and like the Red Bull addicts, the same dose over and over just won't do it. You need more than yesterday's dose to get the same buzz.

Yes, there are highlights (and milestones) that come to mind from year to year, but usually not in the "base" technology, but rather from ancillary tracks of some kind. Soraa was one of those when, a few years back, they announced their non-polar GaN-on-GaN approach that allowed them to drive the heck out of their violet LEDs without sacrifcing much in efficiency. Since violet is down there in a shorter wavelength than the standard blue LEDs that make up most of our phosphor converted approach to white lighting, it let them widen the spectrum down at the bottom, hitting spots in that nearly near UV that halogens and sunlight down, which can make for brighter brights and whiter whites (with the help of optical brightening agents that makers of fabrics and paper and such have added for years). They made the most of that advantage by fattening up the phosphor spectrum a bit, and producing very nice looking light. They don't boast much about the raw efficiency, both because better quality of light comes as a bit of a tradeoff that way, but also because they aimed to better the more compact halogens, such as MR16's, and 15 lumens per watt isn't really hard to beat. Soundly. An interesting breakthrough.

We saw a significant milestone a week or so ago when Shuji Nakamura (a co-founder of Soraa) was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics for his part in creating a mass-produceable blue LED. The prize is shared with Isamu Akasaki of Meijo University and Nagoya University, Japan, and Hiroshi Amano of Nagoya University. Really quite cool, since the invention itself is not all that remarkable... a little chunk of material that glows blue, and not an terribly complex set of parts that let humans fly through the air, or someting. Much like the computer chip really first showed up in something as ordinary as calculators, don't be surprised if we look back in a few decades and recognize that while the airplane changed a lot, like the humble microprocessor did before it, the blue (and white, and color-adaptable) LEDs that enabled our world of solid state lighting, ended up changing almost everything in and around our built spaces.

Which leads to our headline up there contending that there are still plenty of breakthroughs left. OLEDs have just scratched the surface of their capabilities to do stuff. We're not big proponents that they're the way will do lighting in the near future, but the can do some pretty neat tricks when it comes to display technologies, or the ability to put light and color where it really couldn't be before. When they really do become printable and maybe even paintable, why struggle at the paint store to find the perfect mix of colors, when you can just spin the wall color knob?

Some news this week from Osram suggested there are still impressive leaps going on as they showcased a single chip solution that could deliver enough lumen output to create a automobile headlight that was the size of a box of matches (which we see fewer and fewer of these days, so how about we say it's about the size of the key fob on that same car...). We promise that we're not far off from seeing headlights that "watch and think", making use of sensors, MEMS and/or adaptive optics to aim our headlights the right way, and brighten and dim them to accomodate oncoming traffic.

And then there's the whole Internet of Things. The IoT sounds a bit hippie ("everything will talk to everything and will all play happily together in the sandbox of life, man...") but it's real, and will make the cool things we do with our smart phones today look like baby stuff. At least until we get used to our car doors, and house doors, and office doors all opening just for us, with our lights adjusting to us just before we walk in a room, and our TVs or iMusic dialing itself to exactly what we want, exactly when we would have wanted it. The fridge will inventory what goes in and out, and suggest shopping lists that we'll edit and approve with hand waves in the air, and the stuff will just show up. But when we stop to think about it, a few of us will notice that the lights in our ceilings have turned out to be the hosts for a lot of the devices that watch and measure and protect us, and we'll realize that it was all because of some sharp, hard-working folks at Bell Labs that figured out you could get blue light out of a chunk of gallium, and some other sharp, hard-working folks in Japan that kept at their crystal growth processes and epitaxial reactors, over and over again, until they got a material that made a blue LED that could make a pretty decent amount of light. And it was efficient, and it got better, and we put them in all our spaces, and they watch us and serve us (and hopefully don't take over at some point).

We should stay impressed.

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