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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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For the latest news dedicated to LEDs in general lighting, tune to Solid State Lighting Design. Applications updates, the latest luminaires and wins, subsystems and componentry in support of lighting in and around the built environment, it's all there!

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...

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.

Philips Lumileds Launches New Luxeon CoB LEDs for Spotlights
LIGHTimes News Staff

October 21, 2014...Philips Lumileds has introduced a new compact COB LED array with a small 6.5 mm light-emitting surface that is ideal for spotlights. The small Luxeon CoB 1202 array boasts the highest center beam candle power available. The company says that its small size makes it perfect for PAR and other directional lamps. The Luxeon CoB 1202s is also available with Philips Lumileds' CrispWhite Technology, which the company says produces a high color rendering index and for rich whites, vibrant reds and other colors.

“The 1202s lifts the bar even higher by producing light output in a smaller, 6.5 mm LES that was only possible previously in 9 mm LES arrays. In addition, the 1202s does so with a superior CBCP, delivering 65,000 candelas at a 10˚ beam angle,” said Ahmed Eweida, product manager for the Luxeon CoB line.

The company first introduced its CrispWhite Technology for retail lighting in July 2014.

“The response has been tremendous. Shop owners and their customers clearly prefer LED lighting with CrispWhite over CDM and halogen,” said Eric Senders, Product Line Director.

The Luxeon CoB range including the 1202s is available in a very warm, 2200K version for applications requiring a candlelight-like glow. Philips Lumileds says lighting designers are using the Luxeon CoB 1202s to produce highly reliable directional lamps. The company has published a full list of compatible drivers, optics and holders to help speed the time-to-market for downlights and spotlights.

Flip Chip LEDs and Chip Scale Packaging for LEDs Are Altering Supply Chain, According to Yole Development
LIGHTimes News Staff

October 21, 2014...The product quality of Chinese LED manufacturers has increased to the point where they are competitive with other global producers of LEDs for general lighting. In this competitive LED chip market, LED chip manufacturers hope to improve efficacy, decrease cost, and increase color consistency, according to Yole Development. Yole asserts that Several LED producers have begun focusing on Flip Chip (FC) LEDs because of their distinct advantages over vertical LEDs and conventional horizontally-aligned chips (MESA). Some advantages of FC LEDs include: a smaller package, the ability to be driven at a higher current and wire-bonding free design. FC LEDs also tend to have higher efficacy, improved color consistency, and lower cost.

“The combination of cost reduction and advanced packaging technologies such as Flip Chip and Chip Scale Package, is changing the LED industry landscape, especially its supply chain,” Yole reported.

Yole points out that although companies such as Lumileds have employed the technology for some time, technical and technological barriers such as low yield regarding bumping/ eutectic process, and the high cost of packaging equipment limited its adoption industry-wide. However, Yole says the technology has gradually caught on in flash, backlighting, and lighting markets, becoming one the most important developing technolgies in the LED sector this year.

“Whereas Flip Chip LED represented only 11% of overall high power LED packaging in 2013, we expect this component to represent 34% by 2020. Flip Chip LED will take market share from vertical LED that will represent 27% of overall high power LED packages by 2020,” said Pars Mukish, senior market & technology analyst, at Yole Development.

In addition to providing an increased “performance / cost” ratio in metrics such as lumens/dollar, Flip Chip LEDs are also a key technology that can enable the development of Chip Scale Packaging (CSP), which is expected to further reduce costs as chip scale packaging did in silicon ICs. Essentially, a CSP represents is a single chip, direct-mountable package that is the same size as the chip. In LEDs CSPs are comprised of a blue FC LED die with a phosphor layer coating. The primary application of such LED packages is in general lighting.

CSPs offer advantages such as better thermal contact to substrates, and reduced size. However, CSP have eliminated several process steps of traditional LED packaging, and have prompted some LED chip manufacturers to supply their products directly to LED module manufacturers. Yole Development sees this as a growing trend predicting that in the middle and long term, this technology could make chip manufacturers supply directly to module manufacturers.

Yole says that overall, the rise of FC LEDs and chip-scale packaging is good news for some, bad news for others. The company predicts that the LED packaging materials market will grow by a factor x1.5 during the period 2014-2019, driven by package substrate, phosphor and encapsulant / optic material.

Rutgers Researchers Devise Method for Systematically Creating Rare-Earth Metal Free Phosphor Family
LIGHTimes News Staff

October 21, 2014...Researchers at Rutgers University have devised a light converter (phosphor) that is not based upon rare earth metals. Such rare metals have few sources and primarily come from China. Instead of using phosphors such as cerium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet or (YAG):Ce3, the researchers have developed an inorganic–organic hybrid phosphor family based on I–VII binary semiconductors. According to the researchers their hybrid phosphor materials do not require rare-earth metals. The researchers published their findings in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The researchers assert that they can be produced using a simple, low-cost solution process that is easily scalable. The material's emission energy and band gap, color and intensity can reportedly be systematically tuned. The researchers noted that the tuning process requires the incorporation of ligands with suitable electronic properties.

The researchers indicated that some of the compounds that they developed achieved High quantum efficiency. Therefore, the researchers claim that these hybrid phosphor materials are promising candidates for eventually replacing phosphors for general lighting devices.

Jacket Mimics Chameleon
LIGHTimes News Staff

October 21, 2014...Remember those TVs with ambient LEDs that were introduced a few years ago but never really caught on, a company called Drap og Design has created a jacket with an analogous, chameleon-like function. Drap og Design's Interacket, which is presented on maker site Hackaday, allows your jacket to mimic the colors of objects that you touch. Built in sensors detect the color of objects you touch with your hands. Strips of RGB LEDs change color to match the color of the object that your hand touches. The kit uses Adafruit Neopixle LED strips, Adafruit color sensors, and a pair of Arduino Uno Chips. The system is powered by a single 9V battery

The kit uses a pair of Arduino Uno chips, Adafruit Neopixel LED strips and Adafruit color sensors, all powered by a single 9V battery. The jacket itself is made of reflective foil and diffusive fabric to allow the coat to prominently display the colors picked up by the sensors. From the video, you can see that the design groups first prototype is cool but it does not have practical uses. It is far from the resolution required for practical uses in defense or military applications.

The company says that it has nearly completed its second prototype of the Interaket. Who knows what future iterations of the jacket could be capable of. Drap og Design says it also has other design ideas that it is developing that attempt to give humans the "powers" that some other animals have. You can check on their progress on the Drap og Design webpage, or by following them on Hackaday.

DOE Announces Grants Totaling $10 Million for SSL R&D
LIGHTimes News Staff

October 17, 2014...The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is offering a total of $10 million for SSL Development. The DOE announced the funding opportunity on October 14, 2014. The funding from the (DE-FOA-0001171), will go towards the three existing DOE SSL R&D program areas: Core Technology Research, Product Development, and U.S. Manufacturing.

The Core Technology Research program attempts to apply fundamental scientific concepts to SSL technology improvements. The DOE's SSL Product Development program intends to use the knowledge from basic or applied research to develop or improve commercially viable SSL systems, devices and materials. The goal of the DOE's SSL Manufacturing Technology program is to accelerate SSL technology adoption through improvements and innovations in manufacturing innovations that increase consistency and quality while reducing costs.

DOE plans to choose up to ten projects. Concept papers are due by November 14, and applications are due by January 15. In addition, the National Energy Technology Laboratory will hold a webinar about the funding opportunity announcement on October 24 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. More information about the funding opportunity and the webinar is available at the FOA webpage.

Some of the goals of the research and development include maximizing energy efficiency of SSL products and improving lighting performance, lifetime, and color quality. Additionally, the DOE hopes the funding will help reduce luminaire and SSL source costs and maintaining high quality while improving consistency. The DOE also intends for the funding to encourage sustainability, growth, and leadership in domestic U.S. manufacturing.

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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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