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2014-07-25
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Editorial: LEDs Opening New Doors for the Science of Light
 
... It's really incredible to realize that light has been a subject of intense scientific curiosity for hundreds of years, but we still don't know many of it's secrets. Not that it's all that surprising, in the sense that we had sand for millions of years, and only learned how...
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Commentary...
LEDs Opening New Doors for the Science of Light

 
... It's really incredible to realize that light has been a subject of intense scientific curiosity for hundreds of years, but we still don't know many of it's secrets. Not that it's all that surprising, in the sense that we had sand for millions of years, and only learned how...

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

EPA Issues Letter Outlining Proposed Changes to Clarify Energy Star V1.1 Lamp Requirements
SSL Design News Staff

July 24, 2014...The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued another letter outlining proposed changes to the Energy Star Lamps specification. The proposed changes will be used in the transition from V1.0 to V1.1. The EPA also released an excel spreadsheet that calculates center beam candle power (CBCP).

The letter added to lamps that will not be Energy Star listed. The primary reason for the latest exclusion is that the consumer could misconstrue the light distribution and energy efficiency of lamps that look much like omnidirectional A-lamps. For this reason, the EPA will not recognize G18.5 and G19 lamps that do not provide omnidirectional beam distribution.

The EPA also added specific exclusion of lamps with diameters of 41mm to 78mm (which are similar to A-lamps), with the exception of G16.5 and G25-based lamps. The EPA also detailed what was acceptable or not in terms of length to diameter ratio of the lamps. The EPA is seeking more feedback on the added specifications by august 6th. Details including how to comment are available on the Energy Star Lamps website.

GE Develops Special Phosphor that Improves Color and Sharpness of LED Backlit Displays
LIGHTimes News Staff

July 24, 2014...GE reported a breakthrough that it said can greatly improve the color and contrast of images displayed on LED devices. Scientists at GE Lighting and GE Global Research have developed a phosphor powder that, when packaged inside an LED, greatly increases the picture quality of LED electronics. GE's patented solution involves adding potassium fluorosilicate (PFS) doped with manganese to add red emission to LEDs. GE claims that the addition of red light makes the LED light sharper, cleaner, and truer than the nitride phosphor resulting in less color bleed and a richer picture.

Anant Setlur, a materials scientist in charge of the the phosphors development at GE Global Research, said, "Backlit displays consist of an array of LEDs fed into a waveguide to filter out red, green, and blue. In most of the devices you see on the market today, the red component in the LED is low quality, causing greens to look yellowish; this negatively impacts the overall picture quality. What we've achieved here allows for more natural color in consumer electronics. The difference in picture quality is stunning."

GE Ventures has licensed the patents for the technology to Sharp and Nichia. Both Sharp and Nichia are manufacturing and packaging LEDs that contain PFS phosphor material for use as LED backlights in LCD display products. Already, several display companies have launched tablets and smartphones containing LED devices supplied from these licensees.

Mike Petracci, General Manager of Licensing, GE Ventures, said, "Sharp and Nichia are world-class leaders in the design and sale of LEDs, and we are pleased to bring this breakthrough to market."

LEDs and Fixtures Brighten the Chemical Materials Market
LIGHTimes News Staff

July 24, 2014...LEDs are quickly replacing older, less durable and energy-efficient lighting technologies worldwide. Market research company, Frost & Sullivan says that because chemicals and materials are required at all stages of the LED fixture's manufacturing process, chemical companies will be an important factor in the future success of the LED industry.

Frost & Sullivan predicts that revenue growth in chemicals demand will be ahead of growth in the LED industry itself. The company projects that the LED materials market, which had revenues of $5.01 billion in 2013, will increase to $11.71 billion in 2018. Frost & Sullivan examined applications for chemicals through chip fabrication, packaging, module construction, and fixture assembly.

The company points out that historically, demand for LEDs in applications including display backlighting has driven growth in chemicals demand for LED applications. However, Frost & Sullivan says that this market is now relatively mature, and the company predicts that the demand from the general lighting sector will dominate future growth. According to the company, of the four tiers of the value chain involved in manufacturing LEDs, the greatest need for chemicals will come from the final stage, assembling the fixture.

"While prices of LEDs are falling at all stages of the value chain, price pressure is particularly strong in the packaging stage," noted Frost & Sullivan Performance Materials Industry Principal Brian Balmer. "As a result, chemical companies that offer innovative products enabling cost savings for LED manufacturers will be well-positioned to succeed."

The company indicated that unlike traditional lighting, LED light sources do not have to be designed around a replaceable bulb. For this reason, the company expects that innovative designs and material options will create opportunities that did not exist with previous lighting technologies.

"Chemical companies, therefore, need to partner with fixture manufacturers to help them understand how chemicals and materials can be used to design the LED fixtures of the future," said Balmer.

While, the company says that the packaging tier has some of the greatest requirements for innovation from chemical companies, this tier is reportedly under the greatest pressure to reduce prices

Frost & Sullivan noted in a summary of their recent report, "While some market segments, especially phosphors, have large barriers to entry, others offer opportunities for new entrants to the market." Further, the company says that more an more lighting OEMs are looking to produce their own chemicals in-house to be more competitive.

In the chip stage, CVD precursors have the majority of the material market value. The majority of the package material market value is in phosphors. The largest portion of the module material market is for thermal interface materials. In the fixture stage, plastics for secondary optics are the largest part of the material market.

China Star Optoelectronics Commences Trial Production of AMOLED Panels

July 24, 2014...CSOT has begun trial production of AMOLED panels, according to Digitimes. The company expects to mass produce AMOLED panels for display applications by 2016. The company plans to have a total of 10 overall AMOLED production lines in China that will go into production or have already begun production from 2014-2016. China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSOT) has become the largest supplier of 32-inch AMOLED panels worldwide. The company has also established a joint venture with the government of Wuhan, China, to sell small-to-medium-sized AMOLED panels using the joint venture's 6G LTPS/AMOLED production lines. Digitimes notes that China makers of AMOLED panels continue to receive financial assistance both from the central government in China as well as from many local governments to develop AMOLED panel production facilities. Digitimes Research says that despite government incentives, AMOLED panel makers will face high production costs and low yields causing less competitive pricing compared to TFT LCD technology in the short term.

Natick Examines the Effects of Shelter Lighting on Soldier Thinking, Mood
LIGHTimes News Staff

July 22, 2014...Researchers at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, are examining the effects of various types of lighting in military shelters on soldiers. The Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command that aims to create technology and engineering solutions for American soldiers.

NSRDEC's Cognitive Science Team are investigating the effect of lighting on the ability to perform tasks, visual acuity, mood, or affective state, and cognitive alertness/awareness. The team is comparing traditional fluorescent lighting and newer LED lighting at varying color temperatures ranging from low-color temperatures of yellow and red tinted white light to high-color temperatures of bluish white. Twenty-four volunteers, soldiers between 18 and 31 years of age, participated in the five-day study,

"This study is important because it is the first study that has considered the tradeoff between the differences in cost between the lighting technologies and the impact of the lighting on Soldier mood and performance," Dr. Caroline Mahoney, leader of the Cognitive Science Team, said.

"There is a ton of past research on what lighting can do to humans," Breanne Hawes, lead researcher on the project and member of the cognitive science team said. "It can affect how sleepy you are, your sleeping patterns, or how productive you are. But this has rarely been studied as a military application."

"The ultimate aim of the project is to develop efficient spaces that promote well-being," said Hawes. "We were thinking of Soldiers in tents doing mission planning. This is where they setup their maps and have their meetings in shelters, and we wanted to see how the lighting would affect that especially, among other things."

Dr. Mahoney pointed out that one of the team's goals is to help shape technology and material development. On this study, the Cognitive Science Team collaborated with the Shelters Team and the Special Projects Team.

"This (study) was about helping material/product developers and designers make decisions about the technology," said Hawes. "We were trying to analyze different lighting systems. Currently, all the tents use fluorescent lighting, and (the Shelters Team and the Special Projects Team members) were trying to analyze three LED systems, which are newer lighting technologies. They were analyzing them based on technological differences, such as how long they last and how easy they are to set up. So the goal for our project was to tie in how (the lighting choice) is actually affecting the people sitting under the lighting, how is it affecting the Soldiers."

Mahoney said, "Ultimately, we want to provide information to predict a Soldier's abilities in a given context, keep them safe, and optimize performance."

Compared with fluorescent lighting, the NSRDEC researchers found that LED lighting in a work environment seems to promote a positive mood, increased alertness, and faster performance on cognitive and visual perception tasks. The researchers found that soldiers working in fluorescent lighting tended to be more fatigued, less alert, and more depressed over time. Soldiers under fluorescent lighting also tended to have slower response times on cognitive tasks that measured verbal and spatial memory.

"It's important to consider how we can make things so they can perform their best and help ensure their well-being," Hawes said.

AMOLED Mobile Phone Panel Costs to Fall Below LCD, According to NPD DisplaySearch
LIGHTimes News Staff

July 22, 2014...The difference in price between AMOLED mobile phone panels and TFT-LCD panels is decreasing, according to NPD DisplaySearch. Production yields of AMOLED mobile phone panels have reportedly helped reduce the cost difference. According to the NPD DisplaySearch's OLED Technology Report, the cost of manufacturing AMOLED panels is currently 10 to 20 percent higher than that of TFT-LCD displays.

However, the rapid improvement in AMOLED panel production yields is expected to result in a lower manufacturing costs for AMOLED mobile phone panels than LCD mobile phone panels within the next two years, according to NPD DisplaySearch. The company points out that AMOLED panels were expected to cost less than LCD panels from close to the beginning of their use in smartphone displays because they do not require backlighting. However, production challenges kept AMOLED yields low, increasing production costs. Therefore, equivalent LCDs cost less. AMOLED panels became high-end products, due to their high-color gamut, good contrast, and slimness. Production yield improvements are expected to help broaden the adoption of AMOLED panels into smartphones.

"Until recently, there have been few breakthroughs in the production of AMOLED displays, and the OLED industry seemed to be facing hard times," said Jimmy Kim, senior analyst of display materials and LED at NPD DisplaySearch. "If AMOLED costs fall below LCDs, as expected, it would lead to more opportunities for the OLED display industry, greater competition with LCD, and more choices for consumers."

The company gives the current example of a 16 percent cost difference between 5-inch AMOLED and LCD (1920 1080) mobile phone panels. NPD DisplaySearch contends that AMOLED panel costs are expected to fall below LCD panel costs when AMOLED production yields reach 90 percent. The company notes that if further cost reductions for OLED materials are achieved, then the yield required for AMOLED panels to be cheaper than LCD will be even lower.

Jacksonville Jaguars to Unveil Largest Ever HD Video Displays
LIGHTimes News Staff

July 22, 2014...On July 26th, 35.5 million LEDs in an enormous HD LED video display will light up EverBank Field, the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, in Jacksonville, Florida. During the game, the world's largest HD LED video display will be unveilled. EverBank Field will host a soccer match between Fulham F.C. and D.C. United followed by a concert by country music star Carrie Underwood.

"The Jaguars have done a great job in preparing an exciting unveiling event for the world's largest video displays," Daktronics vice president of live events Jay Parker said. "These displays will set a precedent in professional venues in terms of the fan experience and what can be witnessed by going to the stadium. The team can show a never before seen combination of content with essentially three huge HD screens on one massive LED display. It's going to be amazing when they fire them up to host their first home football game."

The two massive end zone displays featuring a 13HD pixel layout will each measure 60 feet high by 362 feet wide. Each display with more than 21,700 square feet of digital canvas is longer than a football field and can feature three full-size HD windows for maximum versatility during any event. Three sections of 60 feet high by 106 feet wide provide enough real display space and allow an extra 44-foot-wide buffer space for additional graphics, statistics and other content.

The 13HD technology was selected for numerous reasons, especially its high brightness that helps overcome the direct Florida sunlight. The displays boast high contrast and wide viewing angles.

ITRI Establishes Alliance for Commercialization of OLEDs
LIGHTimes News Staff

July 22, 2014...Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute initiated the setup of the Organic Light Emitting Diode Commercialization Alliance (OLCA) to spark the OLED industry in Taiwan. OLED companies RiTdisplay Corp, WiseChip Semiconductor Inc, Merck, Corning Incorporated and Tongtai Machine & Tool CO have joined OLCA.

OLCA Chairman Liu who serves as vice president and general director of the Electronics and Optoelectronics Research Laboratories at the ITRI, noted that while fluorescent lamps currently lead in high luminosity and cost-efficiency, technological development of fluorescents has reached its limit. Technology for LEDs and OLEDs and their use in general lighting has much room for improvement. Liu asserts that OLEDs can theoretically achieve higher luminance efficiency and longer life than fluorescent tubes. Liu noted that OLCA has organized five committees, which are lamps, lighting design, materials, fixtures and optical engines. The committees plan to making OLEDs ready for indoor lighting. So far, more than 60 companies have revealed their interest in working with other OLCA members.

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Commentary & Perspective...

LEDs Opening New Doors for the Science of Light
LIGHTimes/SSL Design Staff

July 23, 2014...It's really incredible to realize that light has been a subject of intense scientific curiosity for hundreds of years, but we still don't know many of it's secrets. Not that it's all that surprising, in the sense that we had sand for millions of years, and only learned how to turn it into semiconductors in the 20th century, but what we're really talking about here is the 'effect' of light on, well, life. One might contend that we know a whole lot about the interaction of light on humans.

We know how different kinds of light can create moods, and we know lots about how we perceive color. We even know a fair amount about why we perceive color, as the three kinds of cone cells in our eyes (S, M and L corresponding to the relative wavelengths they detect) combine to give us the standard observer curves X, Y and Z. If this is new to you, it's kind of fun giving a browse to one of the wiki rundowns here. That overview, and subsequent ones such as the background in the CIE 1931 Color Space (here) can pretty easily conk up your brain, but at least getting familiar with some of the terms will be valuable for anyone at any level in the LED and SSL market space. No really, we promise that it will, because while we know a fair amount, we've really just scratched the surface.

Ok, fair enough. If we make the pronouncement, we should offer a few lines to defend it. There's lots we could throw into the argument, but we'll focus on just two. 1) Prior to the ready availability of the full spectrum of lighting-class LEDs, we really haven't had good control over the light that we create. Ergo, we haven't been able to throw the amount and kind of light we really needed to affordably study its effect on living things. 2) We only recently discovered some obviously key elements of the human light-response mechanisms, such as how light triggers the melatonin response in humans. (Ref here for the 2001 landmark study that attempted to determine how light managed to affect melatonin production, and here for 2008 specifics on the results of testing one wavelength of light).

To the first contention, while our scientific curiosity has always been easy to pique, it's a little trickier to find someone to pay to satisfy that curiosity. And still more of a challenge as the price increases, relative to the potential return on investment (whether societally or commercially). If you have evidence that suggests specialized materials combine more efficiently, and you can test it by putting something in a centrifuge, great. If you need to drop the experiment onto the surface of Jupiter to the real gravitational effect you're after... good luck with that. For light, the general challenge has been that the cost effective light was either white light generated from a glowing thing (filament, candle, sun, ant under the magnifier, whatever) or from an arc and phosphor combination (our friend, the fluorescent). The challenge with white light is that to generate just specific frequencies, you mostly had to take a subtractive approach. Start with white, throw filters in front of it, and use what's left. Need lots of it? Then you need lots of white light, lots of power, and you get lots of spare heat at no extra charge. If you want to light a box which test subjects can stick their head into, you can probably pull it off. But how do you light a test space where people would have longer term exposure to just specific sets of frequencies? Not cheaply is the answer. Fluorescents could offer some hope, presuming you were really good and had the time to invent and test all the custom blends of phosphor you'd need, and then build them into your own lighting systems. Maybe not so hopeful after all. LEDs allow unprecedented opportunities to tune those wavelengths, and then deliver a lot of photons in those wavelengths at a reasonable price.

To the second point, it just strikes us that when our first real confirmation that there is a non-visual pathway for light to affect one aspect of human biology comes in 2001, and that it is just the melatonin system that we figured this out about, there is still a lot of discovery left. An analogy might come from what we're learning about food or plant pharmacology. While we can study the effect of one compound on human physiology, what happens when we let it interact with another. Or another. Or still another. As we add compounds, it gets trickier and trickier to keep track of all the spinning dials, especially to the degree of certainty as to which of the included elements are having the interactive effect. Read any drug disclosure, and you quickly find it says, "While the specific mechanisms are not completely understood, it is generally believed that....".

So why does it matter? Step one in our process of new discoveries with light will be focused on understanding what "natural" light is. Our best baseline guess is that we're tuned to be "in tune" with natural light. Morning - noon - sunset - moon. We don't sleep so well when there is a full moon. Seems our bodies know that it's a full moon, and one guess we've always enjoyed is that we know the things that might be hunting us can see better, so maybe we should spend the night awake hunting them. We know that critters in captivity (inside) can tell what season it is. Gravity doesn't explain it, but it seems reasonable that as the sun changes its angle during the year, or as the duration of the light-dark cycle varies, those subtle changes can be picked up. The folks in the LED lighting industry, and their scientific partners, are working hard to figure out what parts of natural light matter, and why. If we can narrow it down to wavelengths, and interactions among those, we are on the way to step two.

Step two, of course, is messing with the light to make it better. Natural isn't always the best thing for us, sometimes it's just something we put up with. Like mosquitos. 100% natural, but totally evil (or very nearly so). UV light. Handy for some things, but for keeping eyes and skin healthy, there is a pretty compelling case that less is often better. Replicate the great parts of natural light, and trim back the not so great parts. It also goes hand in hand with the fact we don't live naturally. Indoors, for instance. We were meant to dig and hunt and stuff. Outside. At least for part of the day. If you don't buy into that, can we at least grant that we're not really meant to be doing important stuff during the midnight to 5 AM shift? Doctors there to perform surgery is a good thing. Them having to do it while their brains are saying "sleep... it's not a full moon..." is problematic. The solution is understanding what parts of the light matter, and how we can tweak them to help support the physiological needs of the folks that need to be up and around when we should all be asleep. Or take the case of the sick or injured. The natural course, was, naturally, dying. We've made some pretty impressive strides in fixing that, but how do we know that light isn't just helpful, but is actually critical to recovery. Lots of great studies are underway to figure that out, and as we can control the lighting on a coming epic scale, testing the theories will become easier and easier.

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