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2012-02-16
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Editorial: LED Industry Buzzing at Strategies in Light
 
... The leading annual US exhibition and conference for the broader LED industry supply chain, Strategies in Light, took place this week, and there is no doubt we're seeing a lively industry. Revenue growth at the packaged LED industry has been moderated a bit by the overall economic climate, but...
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Commentary...
LED Industry Buzzing at Strategies in Light

 
... The leading annual US exhibition and conference for the broader LED industry supply chain, Strategies in Light, took place this week, and there is no doubt we're seeing a lively industry. Revenue growth at the packaged LED industry has been moderated a bit by the overall economic climate, but...

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

(Updated) Bridgelux Lands $25 Million Funding from Kaistar Lighting
LIGHTimes News Staff

February 16, 2012...Bridgelux Inc. based in Livermore, California USA, announced that Kaistar Lighting (Xiamen) Co., Ltd. has agreed to invest $25 million in the company. Bridgelux says it plans to primarily use the equity investment to further accelerate research, development, and production of its "GaN on Silicon"-based LED chip and packaging technology for general illumination applications. New Bridgelux investor Kaistar Lighting is a joint venture of Epistar Corp. and Shenzhen Kaifa Technology Co. Craton Equity Partners announced a $60 million investment in the company in August, and then existing investors added $15 million in funding in October. None of the existing investors divested their positions coincident with this investment.

In a recent interview, Bridgelux' Chief Executive Officer Bill Watkins, commented that,"Along with the investment, Kaistar becomes a strategic partner that brings volume manufacturing expertise. Having worked with the company since the 1990's, I have personal experience that highlights them as a smart and trustworthy team to bring to the table." Watkins also pointed out that all of Bridgelux' key partners are invested in the company, including those that bring manufacturing capacity and capabilities to the relationship.

Energy Focus Completes Testing of LED Lighting on U.S. Navy Fleet
LIGHTimes News Staff

February 16, 2012...Energy Focus, Inc. announced that IntelliTube, its fluorescent replacement technology, has completed testing for use on the US Navy fleet. The completed testing has reportedly allowed Energy Focus to fulfill the first $1.9 million of the $23 million lighting supply contract it received in 2011. 



"With the completion of the testing of our new military IntelliTube product, Energy Focus's intelligent plug and play LED lamps can now replace the existing linear fluorescent tube lamps used in most of the Navy's light fixtures," said Roger Buelow, Energy Focus CTO. "IntelliTube's proprietary 'brain,' a tiny microprocessor that allows the circuit to detect and actively reconfigure itself, is the secret behind IntelliTube's ability to be used in the entire gamut of existing fluorescent sockets by simply plugging it in."



With the addition of IntelliTube to its lighting arsenal, Energy Focus can replace the bulk of the lighting aboard ships across the fleet with its broad range of 25 Navy qualified advanced LED lighting products. 

"I am delighted that IntelliTube has completed the Navy's rigorous testing and that Energy Focus is now positioned to fulfill the recently awarded $23 million Navy supply contract," said Joe Kaveski, Energy Focus CEO. He continued, "Supplying IntelliTube to the US Navy is a tremendous business opportunity for Energy Focus. More importantly, the Navy can immediately begin to benefit from the significant energy savings gained through Energy Focus' LED lighting by simply changing the light bulbs installed on every Navy vessel." 
 

CsCl Nano-hemispheres on ITO Surface Improves Light Extraction in Nitride LEDs
LIGHTimes News Staff

February 16, 2012...Researchers from Chinese Academy of Sciences’ used self-assembled cesium chloride (CsCl) nanospheres as as mask for for nano-texturing indium tin oxide (ITO) transparent conducting layers on nitride semiconductor LEDs to improve light extraction by up to 23.4%. The results were published in the journal of Applied Physics. [Yiyun Zhang et al, Jpn. J. Appl. Phys., vol51, p020204, 2012].

The researchers from Chinese Academy of Sciences’ institutes of semiconductors (Semiconductor Lighting Technology Research and Development Center) tried putting CsCl nanospheres directly on GaN. However this reduced the electrical performance of the LED. The researchers devised a new technique which was able improve the light extraction with little effect on the electrical performance. The texturing technique reprotedly reduces the light reflected back into the LED. This is due to the effect of the interaction between materials with different refractive indices, such as GaN/air or ITO/air. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

Government in China Sets 3 Levels of LED Subsidies
SSLDesign News Staff

February 16, 2012...The China government plans to set three levels of LED subsidies, according to a Digitimes article. The first subsidy is for the the central government to provide funding to LED firms to lower production costs. The second subsidy is for provinces and province-level municipalities will set up policies to subsidize customers. The third level of subsidies is for other regions to provide incentives according to local markets, according to the article.

The Digitimes article says that consumers have been reluctant to purchase LED lighting and firms have not been able to push down costs. Hence by having subsidies, the China government believes market mechanisms will be set and completed during the 12th Five-Year plan period.

The article also noted that China introduced policies to replace street lights with LED lamps in ten cities. The government is reportedly planning to add another ten cities in the second phase.

Cree Debuts New LMH2 LED Modules for Europe and Asia Markets
SSLDesign News Staff

February 14, 2012...Cree reports that its LMH2 LED modules, which support 230 volt input, are now available to lighting manufacturers in Europe and Asia. According to Cree, the LMH2 is designed to speed time-to-market and is the only LED module delivering 80 lumens-per-watt system efficacy combined with CRI greater than 90. The modules offer Cree TrueWhite® Technology, a revolutionary way to generate white light with LEDs.

“Cree modules let us quickly and easily create high-performance lighting solutions for our customers,” said Miroslav Masar, SSL director, OMS. “The LMH2 delivers the perfect combination of efficacy, color consistency and cost management.”

The compact, two-piece module features primary optics for superior color uniformity. LMH2 also features primary thermal management – potentially eliminating the need for costly secondary thermal management systems. Cree says that the LMH2 is ideal for downlights, spots, wall sconces, pendant lights, ceiling fans, and many other common luminaires in commercial, retail, museums, residential, hospitality and restaurant environments. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

Radiant Zemax Announces Acquisition of Optima Research Ltd.
LIGHTimes News Staff

February 14, 2012...Radiant Zemax a provider of test and measurement and deign tool systems for the lighting, optics, and display industries based in Redmond, Washington USA, announced it has acquired UK-based Optima Research. Radiant Zemax says that both Optima Research clients and its existing Radiant Zemax partners can expect to benefit from the acquisition with expanded geographic support coverage times and increased local market support.

Optima Research will reportedly continue to act as Europe’s local office for sales and support of Zemax 12 optical and illumination design software, and provide training in computer-based optical design methods. Radiant Zemax says that the acquisition allows it to provide enhanced services and support to its European clients and distribution partners. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.



Paul Caragher, CEO of Radiant Zemax stated, “This acquisition will accelerate client collaboration and product offerings throughout the EU. We are gaining strong talent and industry experience to enhance Radiant Zemax technology platforms.” 


“Our acquisition formalizes and strengthens the long-standing business relationship between Optima Research and Radiant Zemax,” said Neil Barrett, Managing Director of Optima Research.


Radiant Zemax, LLC, was formed by the 2011 merger of Zemax Development Corporation and Radiant Imaging, is a global provider of test, measurement, and design tools and systems to the optics, illumination and display industries.

Planar Launches Thin Video Wall Solution for Wall Coverings Market
LIGHTimes News Staff

February 14, 2012...Planar Systems, Inc., a specialty display solutions provider of Portland, Oregon USA, has introduced the Planar(R) Mosaic(TM), a video wall system with three flat panel tiles for the global architectural wall coverings market. A large-scale prototype exhibit of the Planar Mosaic video wall system will debut February 16 through March 30 at the Cristin Tierney Gallery in New York, New York, in conjunction with video artist, Yorgo Alexopoulos. Planar Mosaic is reportedly the only video wall system that allows designers to integrate three different LCD tile sizes and shapes the Planar's truly square LCD tile measuring 21.6 inches on the diagonal.

The Planar Salvador is a 1:1 aspect ratio tile measuring 15.6 inches / 39.5 cm on each side that is akin to the shape of other building materials. The Planar(R) Vincent (48 inches / 122 cm wide) and the Planar Pablo (40 inches / 103 cm wide) are both rectangular LCD tiles.

The displays utilize Planar's proprietary Mosaic Ensemble software and hardware. Uniquely Planar says that the tiles can be rotated at virtually any angle and mounted in any position, encouraging designers to experiment with negative space while extending project budgets.

The Planar Mosaic video wall features LED backlit displays, which consume less energy than traditional LCD displays. The video tiles boast a slim installation depth of less than 4 inches (10.16 cm), which is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

Rubicon Gets $20 Million Contract to Supply Sapphire Wafers
CompoundSemi News Staff

February 13, 2012...Rubicon Technology, Inc. a provider of sapphire substrates and products announced that it has entered into a new contract with its unnamed largest customer for large-diameter sapphire wafers. The $20 million contract reportedly represents a baseline level of shipments that will be made from June through December 2012. Rubicon's previous contract with the company expired at the end of December.

“We are pleased that we will continue as a key supplier to our valued six-inch wafer customer in 2012,” said Raja Parvez, President and Chief Executive Officer of Rubicon. “...However, with LED chip capacity presently not fully utilized, the inflection point in demand for large-diameter sapphire wafers for LEDs is still some months in the future.”

Rubicon granted adjustments to fourth-quarter 2011 price and volume requirements under the expiring six-inch contract. Consequently, Rubicon’s revenue for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2011, was between $19 and $20 million, slightly below its previous guidance of $20 to $23 million.

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Commentary & Perspective...

LED Industry Buzzing at Strategies in Light
Tom Griffiths - Publisher

February 9, 2012...The leading annual US exhibition and conference for the broader LED industry supply chain, Strategies in Light, took place this week, and there is no doubt we're seeing a lively industry. Revenue growth at the packaged LED industry has been moderated a bit by the overall economic climate, but with most segments growing simply because LED-based solutions make sense, the overall picture is good and should continue that way. Here are some of the highlights that struck us, both in and around the event:

Is 2012 the year of the light engine?... A 'point of order' we're not shy about sharing is that lighting is already a fully-established industry, with fully-established channels, and upstart "chip-head" companies aren't necessarily going to be able to waltz right into the world of replacement lamps and luminaires without expecting more than a little market fight. Just a small step back from the luminaires are the different light-engine approaches, that provide a good opportunity for LED-based innovation, without the substantial channel challenges that arise at the level of full integration. We had the chance to hear from several companies that are making a good showing as "enablers" to the hundreds and hundreds of specialized luminaire manufacturers that may not have the resources to create an LED lighting design from scratch.

First up was Xicato, which has been making a name for itself with a color-consistency message that it has taken straight to the lighting decision makers, in hopes of setting a high-bar for any competitors to deal with. By combining a 'just barely' remote phosphor approach with thermal management that include cooling that phosphor plate, they are able to deliver modules that hit a 1.2 MacAdam ellipse target, and stay there for the life of the product. Not only does that suggest a luminaire incorporating that engine will be delivering essentially the same light 5+ years from now, but that subsequent versions spec'd at the same color temperature and CRI will match the originals despite their difference in ages.

While doing a good job of defining "color quality", they aren't going to be left alone in the space. Terralux is also after a piece of the market with its own innovations aimed at assuring an ultra-long lifetime. Their magic includes integrated thermal monitoring that compares the LED array operating parameters with the LM-80 data curves, so that operations are maintained within the "known" operating envelope at all times. Lumenetix, a name new to me, was also on hand showing its Araya family of dynamically-tuned white light engines. Able to vary their CCT from 2700K to 6000K, the design allows the users to tailor the light to suit the specific subject being lit, whether it's a painting or retail display, to achieve the desired effect. In a serious piece of fancy, they demonstrated a CCT copy-and-paste procedure that is a simple as aiming the remote control at one source (whatever it may be), capturing the observed CCT, and then "pasting" the same CCT to another luminaire. The luminaire has bi-directional communication with the remote in which the remote verifies the CCT by observation, rather than simply trusting that the luminaire hit the target. If it's not a perfect match, the remote provides the coordinate direction and magnitude "suggestions" for the luminaire to finish the tweaking process. Three very different, and productive approaches chasing what is currently a $1.9B module market opportunity, and which is projected to approach $6B towards the end of the decade.

Planar and power... In a sideline visit, we spent a few minutes with Eran Fine, CEO of Israel-based Oree, for an update on their planar LED technology. For those not familiar with Oree's approach, imagine something about the size and thickness of a playing card, that glows with a bright, uniform white light from one side. Personally, I've called it the "white OLED killer" as it provides a simple answer to the standard 'point source' LED challenge, and delivers the ultra-thin form factor with 85 lm/watt efficiency, all at 1/15th the price of an OLED solution. Color tunability is also part of the demonstrated capabilities, and overall, it's out of the box thinking, and well-supported by strategic industry investor-partners. It looks like what many of us imagined early-on as one "futuristic" approach to lighting that LEDs enable.

At the other end of the technology spectrum, Soraa shared some additional detail on its technology launch into the replacement lamp space. CEO Eric Kim outlined the gist of their innovation, which is simply making use of correctly polarized pure GaN substrates, allowing them to operate with incredible power densities within the LED structure. Not to get too techie, but while "normal" LEDs get brighter as you drive more current through them, they also lose efficiency. We call it "the droop problem", and if it went away, we could get a lot more lumens out of much smaller LEDs. The Soraa design, arrived at in no small part through a few decades of Shuji Nakamura's and Steve Denbaar's research, pushes 250 amps per square centimeter through it while still maintaining 90% of the starting efficiency. Now to get a little too techie, think about that for a second... if we assume 10 watts are doing the job of making the equivalent light of a 50W halogen, we're probably dealing with 3.3A at an LED-standard 3V. 3.3 into 250 is .013, which suggests the LED itself may only be 1/100th of a square centimeter. Even if some of my speculations are off by a factor of 2, 1/50th of a square centimeter is still reallly-really small. Talk about a point source! If the chunk of GaN you use to make the LED is small enough, you can get a bunch more of them from one expensive wafer, which makes each one relatively cheap. It's also a dream come true for the optics designer, since a smaller source suggests you can use a smaller optic to get a desired beam pattern. Soraa tells me that they're a few thousand hours into testing, with good results that are backing up their lifetime predictions. More data is needed to know that they've got the full package here, but things look good for this to be one of those noticeable breakthroughs that make the science of semiconductors interesting.

A vision for the future... Awareness seems to be building that now that LEDs are able to begin economically serving a number of areas in lighting, we can afford to expand our vision beyond just replacing the current lighting out there, to instead beginning to see where this could all go. Much as optical communications gave life to a whole new, and really-really big thing called "e-commerce", the fundamental technology of solid state light opens the door to "apps" none of us had previously imagined. For lack of a better term, lets call it "adaptive, responsive, interactive lighting". In a reception hosted by Light Based Technologies, the execs there did a good job of summarizing a concept of "personalizing" light by accepting inputs at a level of granularity relevant to an individual "user" and then responding at that same user level. Communicating information back up the hierarchy, for instance to that section, of that floor, of that building, on that grid, can allow those progressively larger functional blocks to take those conditions at the user level into account in "the big picture" of energy and environmental management. It can start to get very abstract, very quickly, but if we acknowledge that our health, happiness and productivity can all be influenced by light, and that now we finally have the technology that enables us to control it with unprecedented precision, we're off on a hunt to truly understand it. The discussion has just begun, and I, for one, look forward to "the more" that we'll uncover in the process.

The SSL Summit, April 3-4 in Long Beach California, is all about the future of better, smarter lighting. Make your plans now to join key visionaries who will engage, and help shape, the future of lighting. Visit www.SSLsummit.com for more information.

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