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2006-09-27
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Editorial: Seeing the End Product
 
... To those of us who either write about, talk about, and/or work deep down in the compound semi (CS) and/or solid state lighting (SSL) technology wells of expertise, seeing our industries' devices actually working in end products can sometimes be mind-boggling. While GaAs and GaN-based devices are now ubiquitous...
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Commentary...
Seeing the End Product

 
... To those of us who either write about, talk about, and/or work deep down in the compound semi (CS) and/or solid state lighting (SSL) technology wells of expertise, seeing our industries' devices actually working in end products can sometimes be mind-boggling. While GaAs and GaN-based devices are now ubiquitous...

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

Wal-Mart Begins to Save Money With LEDs in Refrigerator Cases

September 26, 2006...USA Today reports that LEDs are the biggest single energy savers that Wal-Mart has found. However, the LEDs are not yet used for general lighting. Wal-Mart has started using LEDs in its refrigerator cases. According to the article, Wal-Mart spent about $30 million and collaborated with GE and Royal Philips Electronics to develop the refrigerator LED lighting system. Unlike fluorescent lighting, LEDs are generally more efficient in the cold. Wal-Mart began using LEDs in its big red signs about two years ago, the article indicated. Charles Zimmerman, vice president of new format development for Wal-Mart told USA Today, "This application will change the grocery industry." He added, "One-third of our energy costs come from lighting, and the LED cuts 50 percent of the cost of lighting." USA Today Article.

SSL Industry Reaches ‘Critical Crossroads’, iSuppli Says

September 27, 2006...In 2006, the solid state lighting (SSL) industry is at a “critical crossroads,” according to iSuppli. iSuppli of El Segundo, California USA, a company which has many years expertise in display technology but is new to reporting on the SSL industry, says that LED suppliers must target new applications to regain their growth momentum. iSuppli cites the slowdown of the key moble handset market and price erosion as reasons for the main reasons for the SSL industry’s growth slowdown. The company points out that the SSL industry experienced three straight years of double digit growth until the rate slowed to 5.8 percent growth in 2005. Increased shipments were not able to reverse the growth slowdown. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

Avago Offers Two New 24-Watt RGB Modules
LIGHTimes Staff

September 26, 2006...Avago Technologies, a privately held semiconductor company in San Jose, California USA, has introduced two 24-watt red, blue, and green (RGB) power LED modules. The modules, which can provide up to 480 lumens of light, offer a lighting solution with the ability to display a variety of colors. According to the company, the modules are ideal for interior and exterior architectural lighting including cove lighting, wall washing, down lighting, and exterior façade lighting, mood lighting, task lighting, LCD display backlighting, sign backlighting, and lighting for other signs and advertising. Avago also points out that the lights are ideal for its patented color management solution. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

LEDtronics Offers Versatile LED Bulb
SSL Design Staff

September 26, 2006...LEDtronics of Torrance, California USA has begun offering its TRF-G30 LED bulbs. The bulb has a globe covering, which allows the light from the LEDs to shine in multiple directions. According to the company the bulb also fits any 25 mm screw base for an Edison light bulb. The bulbs can have an optional European screw base of 27 mm instead of 25 mm. LEDtronics says that the bulbs can be used in many different applications including: decorative lighting, lamps, tollbooths, low-level beacon warning lights, receiving docks, task lighting, cabinets, displays, concealed lighting, and retail store shelves. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

TIR Scores Another Development and Manufacturing Partner for Lexel Technology

September 21, 2006...TIR Systems reports signing a development and supply agreement for its Lexel technology platform with Semperlux AG, a European lighting manufacturer. According to TIR the strategic development and supply agreement adds Semperlux to the list of companies developing and marketing TIR’s Lexel technology. TIR says its Lexel combines breakthroughs in optics, thermal design, feedback, precise color temperature control, and dimming. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

MIT's Tech Review Magazine Gives Award to QD Vision Cofounder
LIGHTimes Staff

September 21, 2006...The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT’s) Tech Review Magazine announced that QD Vision Cofounder and chief technology officer (CTO), Seth Coe-Sullivan was added to the list of the 35 Top Scientific and Technology Innovators Under Age 35, for his work on quantum dot LED performance and manufacturing. According to Tech Review Magazine, this work led to the design of a completely integrated thin film deposition system for next generation displays and new fabrication techniques. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

Unity Opto Introduces RGB LEDs for Display Backlighting
LIGHTimes Staff

September 22, 2006...Unity Opto Technologies of Taiwan has introduced a line of RGB LEDs for side type and direct type LCD backlight units, according to Digitimes. The article indicated that the company began shipments of 7-inch car-use displays and 12-inch notebook displays. Additionally, the company has begun to offer products for dashboard lighting. The backlight modules bring us one step closer to replacing the cold cathode flourescent lighting (CCFL) technology of most LCD backlights. So far, the major stumbling block for the adoption has been the fact that CCFLs still have a lower price. Industry experts have predicted that the pricing of the LED backlight modules will not be competive with the price of CCFL modules for backlighting for at least a couple of years.

Carmanah Gets $767 Thousand Order for Solar Powered LEDs From USMC
LIGHTimes Staff

September 19, 2006...Carmanah Technologies, a maker of solar powered LED lighting located in Victoria, British Columbia Canada, has announced that the company received a $767,270 order to supply a number of its Model FP-50 solar-powered LED general lighting systems for the US Marine Corps (USMC). The order comes through a US-based defense contractor. The company has planned final installation of the FP-50 units at a USMC air base in the Middle East in September and October of 2006. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

Arima Optoelectronics Gets Aixtron System for AlGaInP LED Capacity Increase
CompoundSemi News Staff

September 20, 2006...Aixtron, an MOCVD systems maker in Aachen, Germany, reported that Arima Optoelectronics Corporation of Taiwan ordered three of the AIX 2600G3 Aixtron Planetary Reactor systems. According to Aixtron, Arima will use the systems to mass produce AlGaInP LEDs at its facilities in Dashi and Houko, Taiwan. Arima, which already has multiple Aixtron Planetary Reactor systems for high volume production has added the three 49x2” wafer capacity systems to its production capacity. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

Avago Wins Growth Award; Introduces Bright Oval LEDs
CompoundSemi News Staff

September 20, 2006...Avago Technologies announced it was awarded Frost and Sullivan’s 2006 North American Optoelectronic Components Growth Excellence Award. The award was given to the San Jose-based company for implementing and sustaining growth in a saturated manufacturing market. The criteria for the award included: utilizing a unique sales strategy to increase market share and revenue; creating truly innovative products, and successfully managing an existing product portfolio.

Frost & Sullivan Analyst Hemendhira M noted, "By adopting structured strategies and commercializing highly sophisticated products, the company has been recognized as a one-stop shop that offers a diverse range of product lines tailored to suit varying applications. The company fulfills the immediate requirements of its diverse customers who arrive from enterprise networking, wired and wireless communication, computer peripherals, industrial, and automotive markets." Company News Release

In other company news, Avago introduced bright oval shaped LEDs for outdoor electronic sign and signal applications. The company says that the through-hole RGB lamps are ideal for stadium scoreboards, display advertising and variable message signs. Avago noted that the HLMP-xx61 series of oval shaped LED lamps can also be used in outdoor video displays. Company News Release

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The McDonald Report
Commentary & Perspective...

Seeing the End Product
Jo Ann McDonald

September 27, 2006...To those of us who either write about, talk about, and/or work deep down in the compound semi (CS) and/or solid state lighting (SSL) technology wells of expertise, seeing our industries' devices actually working in end products can sometimes be mind-boggling. While GaAs and GaN-based devices are now ubiquitous in handheld communications devices, white LEDs for SSL applications are still a relatively new phenomenon... or are they? If you define SSL target applications as replacing conventional bulbs (incandescent, florescent, neon, mercury vapor, halogen, etc... ) all one has to do is take a close look at a trip to a big retail store like a Wal-Mart, and you'll actually see that LED replacements for conventional lighting applications are getting more entrenched than you might think.

Where are the LEDs? (A thread begun by our news editor, Scott McMahan in a July 5th editorial.) Everywhere! Starting in the car you drive to the store and the cellphone you use to call home to see what was forgotten on your shopping list. That cellphone and that car are now loaded with CS devices, beyond the obvious LED-based lights. The store's parking lot is full of lights that should be and certainly could be LED-based and probably will be after retail stores figure out that they'll save at least 50% on one-sixth of their total electric bills by changing to all LED lighting. And with the brightness and hue-changing capabilities coming online, the parking lots themselves have the potential of changing their look and mood at will. Foggy day, yellowish works better. Dark night and big doings? Why not make the hues change with a given shopping theme. I remember big search lights being used for store openings back when I was a kid 50 years ago! Imagine the juice those suckers required. Surely the next generation can figure out how to top that using advanced LEDs.

And parking lots seem like a great place for compound semi-based solar power. In fact, I don't see why the new LED-based traffic light end products aren't all solar-based by now, with wired electricity used only as a backup. As I've written about before, the four solar/LED yard lights (manufactured by a Dallas, Texas USA company called Brinkmann), which I purchased from Wal-Mart for only $14, have proved to be amazingly reliable. The solar/LED novelty lights that float in the swimming pool that change to seven soothing but vivid blinking colors (including blue, green and white) continue to work after two whole years of continuous operation in all the nasty weather Texas can conjure. Only during the darkest of rainy days do they not get a proper charge. The only parts that ever wear out are the rechargeable AA batteries! Both products mentioned above, by the way, all clearly state Made in China.

Since the above--which I collectively call Chinese lanterns--are replacing conventional lightbulb-based products, I call these, as well as automotive-related LED lights, solid state lighting (SSL) applications. You're replacing conventional lights with solid state lights. What could be more simple to understand. It's akin to the experience of replacing any old style vacuum tube electronic devices with solid state devices. All it takes to change people's attitudes is publicizing and advertising the simple dollar and environmental savings common sense facts.

I'm especially impressed by an Oregon USA company called Coast Cutlery, which established its market with fine knives for farmers, ranchers and outdoors people. We now know Coast Cutlery because Kevin Corcoran of Coast kindly sent both Scott and me samples of their new halogen replacement bulbs. Scott wrote about them on Aug. 11 titled: Coast Introduces LED-Based 12-Volt MR 16 Halogen Replacement. Coast is one of many leading the charge to convert to LED lighting, starting with LED flashlights and moving quickly into higher end SSL applications. Scott's article is an interesting read if you haven't yet done so. I've even seen their initial SSL products at my local, very rural feed stores. According to my feed store manager, hunters really like their LED-based lamps for numerous reasons and are selling well. Coast also has a product called a "headlamp" which is really for a human's head as opposed to the headlamp of a car. I saw a halogen/LED combo huge handheld spotlight from Coast at my local Wal-Mart recently, which I'm sure hunters and cops alike are going to take to. The big halogen to shock, the bright LED to dazzle or intimidate. Couple the above with compound semi infared (IR) equipment and all the cool little sensors the semiconductor industry creates, and you're practically as well equipped as the most modern military personnel. (I know soldiers wear all sorts of heads up displays, but wouldn't it be cool if their helmets were equipped with CS-based high efficiency solar cells to power all their gear? It's easy to envision the fully CS-equipped soldier. Every time I write something like this, by the way, somebody working with DARPA contacts me to say they're actually doing what I'm describing. I love it when that happens.)

Back inside Wal-Mart, if you were able to visit one of their test lab stores in either Aurora, Colorado or McKinney, Texas, you'd see all sorts of evidence that Wal-Mart, the second-largest revenue producer in the world! (behind ExxonMobil) is making a huge investment in energy-saving technologies beyond what you find on the shelf. LEDs are appearing inside the shelves, and soon will be over and under said shelves and shoppers. According to USA Today, the environmental commitment by was significantly fortified when Wal-Mart celebrated "Climate Change Day" in mid-July (I think they meant to say "Earth Day"). Wal-Mart hosted former USA vice president. Gore is a man on an even more important mission these days and was invited by Wal-Mart to show his outstanding new global warming documentary titled, An Inconvenient Truth. The film received a standing ovation from a very diverse audience that day at Wal-Mart. An Inconvenient Truth, which is doing exceptionally well in theaters, will be released by Paramount in DVD form on Nov. 21st. Every company and every individual should view this film.

Speaking of DVDs that we now take for granted, it's good to remind ourselves every now and then that DVDs wouldn't be possible without red lasers. Looking over at the entertainment section, we're seeing progressively more blue laser-based products on the shelves too. And HEMTs and HBTs? They're everywhere. Especially in all that wired and wireless electronic equipment strewn around your office and home. All of which reminds us once again, without the masters of epitaxy, we simply wouldn't have HB-LEDs (which we have started to call power LEDs) , HEMTs, HBTs and pHEMT-based advanced semiconductor devices. And what would we do without the LED indicator lights on our computers, routers, cellphones, etc... telling us that we have limited juice and it's time to "plug in." (What we all should be championing is improved battery technology!)

As stores and other such big electricity users get started in the design of a new facility, they're doing more than entertaining the notion of lighting their facilities with LEDs. LEDs have begun making inroads at stores that require refrigerators. Talking to BridgeLux's CEO, Bob Walker, I asked where the hot markets are right now, and he said "refrigeration." That makes enormous sense. Nobody likes replacing a bulb in a refrigeration unit. (It's cold in there and the conventional bulb is hot!) High-end and/or forward-thinking stores are gradually changing to LEDs for under- and over-counter lighting as well as for their general and ambient lighting. In that same USA Today article on Wal-Mart, the store has committed to convert to LEDs for their refrigeration, saving an estimated 50% in electricity bills. (Ref: our coverage). Another of our favorite companies, OptoLum, which specializes in replacing conventional lights with LED-based SSL solutions. This Phoenix, Arizona based USA company is quietly growing fast now because of their outstanding custom applications capability and unique ability to work with OEMs. They also hold a key thermal patent which other lighting manufacturers should consider licensing. Proof of OptoLum's success is that their avant-garde counter lighting is literally dazzling high end retail stores.

An article in or new newsletter, Solid State Lighting Design pointed out that Cyberlux has signed an agreement with Cottownwood Furniture, a furniture and cabinetry maker, to provide lighting for their kitchen cabinets. More and more, we'll see LED product on everyone's shelves as well as illuminated them, proudly taking their place alongside all the other CS-based products on the market as manufacturing costs come down and selling prices get even more competitive with the solutions they're replacing. Our news editor, Scott McMahan, did manage to find an online list of many different types of LED and solid state lighting related businesses including LED product retailers (mostly just online retailers) and wholesalers. The lists also include designer and consultant companies around the world, which advise on and install LED lighting. However, I doubt this list is very comprehensive. You can find the lists including LED product retailers on a site called Energy Source Guides.

Microprocessors went through the same growing pains. It's always been that way in the semiconductor industry. Now is the time for the compounds to shine.

If you have questions about the solid state lighting and compound semiconductor industries or have news or views to share, I'm Jo Ann McDonald, Editor of LIGHTimes and CompoundSemi News. Feel free to contact me directly, anytime.
My direct tel at the ranch is +1-325-463-5345

From time to time Jo Ann may comment on companies in which she holds a modest investment - be sure to read her disclosure at some point in time...

 

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