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2012-01-24
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Editorial: Squeezing Out More Lumens for Less
 
... I read a comment recently that suggested we, the industry, would need some big (significant, fundamental) breakthroughs in order to achieve the levels of efficiency that were needed to realize the ultimate success of LED lighting. While "breakthroughs" are always handy in the technology world, they usually don't need...
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Commentary...
Squeezing Out More Lumens for Less

 
... I read a comment recently that suggested we, the industry, would need some big (significant, fundamental) breakthroughs in order to achieve the levels of efficiency that were needed to realize the ultimate success of LED lighting. While "breakthroughs" are always handy in the technology world, they usually don't need...

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TE Connectivity Introduces Socket for Nichia LEDs
LIGHTimes News Staff

January 24, 2012...TE Connectivity of Dharmstadt, Germany, has announced a new addition to its solderless LED socket series, the Type NL2 socket for NICHIA COB-L LEDs. The socket was designed specifically for chip-on-board LEDs from NICHIA. It is suitable for applications such as retail lighting, commercial down lights and high bay lighting. According to the company, the new socket provides a reliable mechanical and electrical connection of an LED onto a heat sink.

The company points out that connecting LEDs without the need for manual soldering offers many benefits. TE notes that soldering is a time-consuming process, and solder flux splatter can possibly damage the light emitting area of the LED. Additionally, a solder termination is awkward to undo and over time can become a weak point that can considerably reduce the reliability of the connection. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

Opto Diode Introduces High-Power, Narrow-Angle IR LEDs
LIGHTimes News Staff

January 24, 2012...Opto Diode, a division of ITW, and a member of the ITW Photonics Group, has introduced the second in a family of three new infrared (IR) LEDs, the OD-850F. The OD-850F is a high-power gallium aluminum arsenide (GaAlAs) LED that features a narrow-angle emission.

The LED offers a range of linear power output from 22mW minimum. It has a typical power output of 30 mW at 100mA at an 850nm peak emission wavelength. The company says that the new IR emitter upgrades and replaces the OD-880F device. The LED boasts nearly twice as much output power, less degradation, and better stability. Opto Diode says that the new highly durable IR LED device features a hermetically-sealed, standard TO-46 package with gold-plated surfaces and window caps that are welded to the case. The company notes that the narrow angle is ideal for long-distance LED tasks in a variety of industrial control applications.

The peak forward current (based on absolute maximum ratings at 25 degrees C) is 300mA. OptoDiode’s new OD-850F narrow angle, high power emitter can be stored and operated safely at temperatures ranging from -40 C to 100 degrees C.

New Pixled Displays to be Launched at ISE Europe
LIGHTimes News Staff

January 24, 2012...Pixled, a European LED maker, is launching its new Pixled F-10i/o - the first of two new fully IP-65 rated indoor / outdoor LED displays. The display will be showcased at the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) exhibition in Amsterdam, January 31st – February 2nd.

Pixled says that the display tiles were developed specifically with rental & staging companies in mind. They are sold in combination with European designed and manufactured hanging brackets, foot system and flight cases. This ensures full portability and very quick set up and tear-down times.

The new LED display features a real pixel pitch of 10.4 mm resolution. It is populated with 3in1 (RGB) SMD chips. The company says that die-cast aluminum modules measure 50 x 50 x 4.5 cm and weighs just 28 Kg per square meter. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

Active-Semi Announces New LED Driver Technology Which Company Claims Reduces Component Count and Lasts Longer
LIGHTimes News Staff

January 19, 2012...Active-Semi of San Jose, California USA unveiled a new type of LED driver which the company claims reduces the component count of conventional driver technology. The company unveiled the technology at the 4th Lighting Japan LED/OLED Technology Expo in Tokyo on January 18-20.

A conventional LED driver converts AC current to DC current so an LED luminaire can run relatively smoothly. LED drivers use electrolytic capacitors to store the charge temporarily. This type of capacitors basically uses up the electrolytic fluid within the capacitor, and it fails.

Active-Semi boasts that its new ACT801/802 LED driver IC does the same functions as a conventional LED driver, but uses the company's Active Direct Drive and Active Valley Fill technologies to do this without needing an electrolytic driver (which eventually fails because of being used up). It also does this without the need for magnetic components that help control for electo-magnetic interference. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

Avago Technologies Enables Thinner Digital Cameras with New Small-Footprint Auto-Focus Auxiliary Flash LEDs
LIGHTimes News Staff

January 19, 2012...Avago Technologies of San Jose, California announced two series of compact LEDs that reduce space requirements for designing auto-focus auxiliary flash functionality into digital cameras. The new ASMT-FJ70 and ASMT-FG70 devices are available in one of the market’s thinnest, smallest-footprint packages for LEDs with the brightness needed for auto-focus functionality in dark settings. The ASMT-Fx70 LEDs are available in a tiny, 3.6 mm by 3.2 by 3.4 mm height surface-mount package.

The company says that the small footprint helps meet market demand for thinner digital cameras. The LEDs use a clear, non-diffused lens to deliver high luminous intensity within a narrow radiation pattern. Avago says that the LEDs provide smooth, consistent optical performance for precise auto-focus functionality. The ASMT-FJ70 devices are orange and the ASMT-FG70 devices are reportedly the first green auxiliary flash LEDs in this size range. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision Systems Wins an Engineering Emmy
LIGHTimes News Staff

January 19, 2012...Mitsubishi Electric’s Diamond Vision™ Systems has been named a recipient of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) 63rd Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy® Award. Mitsubishi Electric won its Emmy® in the Pioneering Development of Large-Venue, Large-Screen Direct View Color Video Displays category.

The Emmy® is the latest of several awards and honors for Diamond Vision, which has been recognized by the Guinness Book of Records for its high-definition video displays at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas and Turner Field in Atlanta, and Sports Business Journal’s 2010 “Best in Sports Technology” award.

“Mitsubishi Electric is honored to be recognized by the Academy for our decades of leadership in large-screen display technology,” said Mark Foster, general manager of Mitsubishi Electric Power Products’ Diamond Vision Systems division. “Advanced technologies we’ve developed for stadium and arena displays, such as wider viewing angles and higher brightness and resolution, are now found in our home theater products, such as our 92-inch 3D HDTVs and 3D projectors.”

Premiere venues boasting Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision displays include Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium and the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Other Diamond Vision innovations and milestones include the: the first high-definition LED stadium display at Turner Field (home of Atlanta Braves), the first high-definition LED display in New York’s Times Square (MTV’s TRL Live), the first high-definition LED display in the NBA/NHL at TD Banknorth Garden (Boston Bruins/Celtics), and the first high-definition 6mm LED display system in the NBA/NHL at the Verizon Center (Washington Wizards/Capitals).

“The National Academy’s Engineering Achievement Committee is pleased to honor technology companies who have set the standard for much of what we do in broadcast television and to those that continue to broaden what is possible in bringing home to the viewer the best that television has to offer,” said incoming committee Chairman, Robert P. Seidel, vice president of CBS Engineering and Advanced Technology. The Emmy® will be presented January 12th as part of the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Eulitha to Collaborate with EV Group to Develop To Develop Low Cost of Ownership Nanopatterning Solution for HB LED Fabrication
LIGHTimes News Staff

January 16, 2012...Eulitha AG of Villigen, Switzerland, a producer of nanostructures using advanced lithography techniques, announced that it has signed a joint-development and licensing agreement with EV Group (EVG), a supplier of wafer bonding and lithography equipment. Under the terms of the collaborative agreement, EVG will integrate Eulitha’s PHABLE mask-based ultraviolet (UV) photolithography technology with EVG’s automated mask aligner product platform. The collaboration's goal is to develop a low-cost-of-ownership (CoO) nanopatterning solution for producing HB-LEDs. The companies report that demo capabilities are in place already, and the first products are expected to reach the market in 2012.

In addition to enabling the production of LEDs, Eulitha says that the technology also supports the production of solar cells and liquid crystal displays. Eulitha notes that the fabrication technology combines the low cost, ease-of-use and non-contact capabilities of proximity lithography with sub-micron resolution, making it ideally suited for patterning sapphire substrates to enhance the light extraction of LED devices. EVG plans to offer a PHABLE enabled EVG620 system as an extension to its well- established mask alignment system platform, giving customers an even wider choice of configuration options.

Harun Solak, CEO of Eulitha stated, “We believe the synergies of our respective technologies have great potential to provide the resolution and volume-production capabilities of lithography steppers at a fraction of the cost—enabling LED, optics and photonics manufacturers with extremely tight cost constraints the opportunity to extend their technology roadmaps to higher levels of performance.”

Optics for Hire Releases First Lens Design Customized for Cree XB-D
LIGHTimes News Staff

January 17, 2012...Optics for Hire, a product development company located in a suburb of Boston, announced it has developed a lens design based on the new Cree XB-D LED. OFH Lighting’s 20 mm total internal reflection (TIR) optic has a 8.3 degree beam angle and 16 degree field angle. The company says it has uniform color and intensity. OFH will make additional beam pattern designs available in the coming weeks. The company notes that XB-D LED provides double the lumens-per-dollar as the previous generation of Cree LEDs.

“For the best performance, an LED optic should be optimized for the chip to be used. Secondary optics based on Cree’s older ‘XP family’ will not be able to match the performance of a custom design based on the unique XB ray set,” said Optics for Hire President John Ellis. “We know sophisticated LED developers already have relationships with plastic molding houses and require multiple sourcing, “ added Ellis. “We are selling design files which provide clients with maximum flexibility to use their own qualified LED optic molder or bid out production.”

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Commentary & Perspective...

Squeezing Out More Lumens for Less
Tom Griffiths - Publisher

January 19, 2012...I read a comment recently that suggested we, the industry, would need some big (significant, fundamental) breakthroughs in order to achieve the levels of efficiency that were needed to realize the ultimate success of LED lighting. While "breakthroughs" are always handy in the technology world, they usually don't need the modifier "big" in front of them to create a success. In an oft-repeated persistence meme, "A big shot is just someone who took little shots, but just kept shooting." So it goes with LEDs and LED lighting. Success won't be evading us even if the material science topped out right where it is right now (which it won't), or even if other conspiracies forced an end to the core efficiency improvements. While GM and "big oil" are said to have quashed the 200 mile-per-gallon carburetor, it appears the analogous suspects in light bulbs (GE, Philips, et al), have failed miserably to stop LED technology in time to stave off the eventual demise of incandescent and fluorescent lamps (... although they are probably sitting on alien lighting technology that delivers millions of lumens per nano-watt, but that's a different story). That LEDs will succeed is good news, though, as it means we'll have time to circle back around to the R&D that will power our cars on di-hydrogen oxide (also known as H20).

In defense of the proposition that we're going to get there regardless, its worth a quick word on the nature of lumens, since "lumens per watt" is typical recognized as "the goal" for lighting technology improvements. Not to get too "sciency" here (especially since I can't bluff that well), it's important to understand that all lumens are not created equally, in the sense that differing "optical power" is needed to create differing color lumens. "Optical power" which is the measure of the energy represented in the photons that something, an LED in this case, emits. Lumens are about the "perceived" brightness as interpreted by the human eye which, photopically speaking, peaks at about 555 nm, which is that green-yellow transition area. Not surprisingly, our eyes balance out the different frequencies of light to help us see the world the way we're "supposed to" (a self-defining kind of thing). The natural starting point for all this is the sun, since that's been main light source for humans, and the rest of the earth, for more than a couple of years now. The big "for instance" is our sensitivity to that yellow-green light. The sun generates a nicely shaped spectral "energy" curve that starts out at about 1 W/sq.meter/nm in the deep blue, peaks about 40% above that in the blue-to-green range, and then tapers back down to most of the way back to around 1.25 W/sq.meter/nm after the red (with some variance in those numbers based upon altitude and atmospheric conditions). There is a noticeable down-blip in along the green-yellow border, conveniently there in the area that challenges us, maybe helping us to see things we need to find, such as food, which is often found in the midst of green leaves (fruit) or is green itself (veggies). Maybe that explains why lots of people prefer green vegetables but don't like beets... not in the peak color sensitivity.

Why that all matters, is to make sure we rule out any "gaming the lumens" approach to efficiency gains. One simplistic cheat to more lumens per watt would be to pump up the green, and the other colors in the "center" of the spectrum that we're more sensitive too, while dialing back the colors we're less sensitive too. Anytime you've seen a LED that had a greenish tinge to it, you've experienced that skew, whether it was intentional or not. Interesting to note is that native green LEDs are the least efficient kinds, so it's fortunate that we don't need much green in order to have accurate color perception... seems an interesting coincidence. I suspect a few manufacturers in the earlier days may have had runs with a new phosphor approach that turned out a bit green, and while not planning to carry that over to the volume product, it could have come in handy for quoting the leap forward in total lumens the "white" LED was producing. CRI and eventually CQI, the more accurate and technology independent Color Quality Index, will help keep this in check as new players of significance appear on the LED manufacturing scene. And that can be expected, as China's newest 5-year plan has called for those many small LED manufacturers who enjoyed MOCVD equipment subsidies, to please now merge themselves into just a few new LED manufacturing powerhouses. It should be noted that blue-tinged white LEDs similarly offer more lumens-per-watt, but for different reasons. In that instance, it's simply that less of the original blue photons are converted by the phosphor, and come right on through unmolested, able to register lots of lumens in our blue-sensitive eyes. Conveniently we can apply the existing lighting term of "cool" to the resulting color family, so it's not a fault, just a feature.

With laboratory results of white LEDs having been announced at over 200 lumens per watt, and production devices now at 150, it would present a compelling case that we'll get above 200 for production LEDs in the near future. If we assume that's as far as the efficiency game will take us, is it good enough? I think so, for two simple reasons: 1) These are semiconductor devices, and if there is one thing the last 30 or so years have taught us, semiconductor manufacturing know-how continues to march forward and one inevitable result is decreasing costs. Whether from economies of scale, process tweaks or progressive innovations, such as Bridgelux' and Osram's confident announcements of GaN-on-silicon, the cost per lumen will continue to fall; and 2) We can now fit enough lumens in a square inch to replace every incumbent lighting technology in every application that exists today.

Size does matter, and I can remember clearly when cool-white LEDs crossed the lumens-per-square-inch threshold that enabled the launch of LED-based streetlights in a standard cobra-head envelope. The thing on the end of existing poles needed to be no bigger than what was there already, for a host of reasons, and solid state lighting had finally pulled it off. Much the same as when LEDs proved themselves in traffic signals, the transition became inevitable, an in just a few years, we'll be smirking when we see an "antique" non-LED cobra-head lighting up a roadway.

LED manufacturers have stayed dead on the line to the target in continuing to shrink LED footprints to enable that "holy grail" of lighting, the replacement lamp market. Lumileds fired that first round some years ago with the Luxeon Rebel family, which is currently packaging up to 200-ish warm lumens into a 3mm x 4.5mm package (which could be referred to as a "3045") when driven at 1000mA yielding around 80 lumens per watt. The tighter spacing provided enough lumens per square inch to better tap some of the more challenging lamps, such as the MR-16 format. Most recently, Cree announced its XB-D which shrink things still further into a 2525 package, allowing around 12 200+ lumen devices to be squeezed into the space that would normally fit 7-8. (Both numbers are referencing high drive currents at around 3500K... they can be driven at 350mA, with efficacies approaching 130 lm/w). While more lumens per chip is generally the thing we think of in terms of packaging efficiency, being able to fit more individual chips in a given piece of real estate also has advantages in terms of scalability, and the option to driving them "more gently" for better efficiency and/or longer lifetimes. Neither is "the best" in a blanket sense, as there are always design tradeoffs and application considerations where big chips make sense, but the upshot is that we can fit the needed number of lumens pretty much wherever we need to, and cost optimization has come right along with that.

While LEDs "taking over the world" is exciting in itself, we're always looking for the next thrilling development, and there plenty of reasons to expect that 200 lm/w isn't the end of the road. Nor is a 2525 device as compact as we expect a lighting-capable LEDs to get. The incumbent technologies are no-doubt doomed and those that do doubt will find themselves left behind when "suddenly" LEDs are the only answer, and they're still wondering if they'll really last 50,000 hours (despite passing a traffic signal on their daily commute and not realizing it contains the same set of LEDs that were installed in it 100,000 hours ago). No, we'll see more efficiency, and lower costs, with the result being innovative new ways to package and deliver light, as well as whole set of new ways to use light that we hadn't really ever dreamed of before.

Join the movers and shakers that are helping to define and shape the future of smarter, better lighting at the next installment of the SSL Summit, coming up April 3-4 in Long Beach, California.

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