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2014-10-22
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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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Commentary...
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...

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.

Scientists Create Carbon Nanotube-based Light Source that Behaves Like Cathodes Ray Tubes
LIGHTimes News Staff

October 16, 2014...Scientists from Tohoku University in Japan have created a new type of energy-efficient flat light source. The light source, which employs carbon nanotubes, has a very low power consumption of around 0.1 Watt for every hour's operation. The researchers claim that is about a hundred times lower than that of an LED.

According to the researchers, the single walled carbon nanotubes and a phosphor screen act like a field of tungsten filaments shrunk to microscopic proportions. The scientists detailed the fabrication and optimization of the light source in an article appearing in Review of Scientific Instruments, from AIP publishing.

The researchers dispersed a mixture liquid containing highly crystalline single-walled carbon nanotubes in an organic solvent mixed with a soap-like chemical known as a surfactant. They "painted" the mixture onto the positive electrode or cathode. Then, they scratched the surface with sandpaper to form a light panel. According to the researchers, the light panel that they formed could produce a large, stable and homogenous emission current with low energy consumption.

"Our simple 'diode' panel could obtain high brightness efficiency of 60 Lumen per Watt, which holds excellent potential for a lighting device with low power consumption," said Norihiro Shimoi, the lead researcher and an associate professor of environmental studies at the Tohoku University.

For comparison, LEDs can produce over 100 Lumens per Watt and OLEDs (organic LEDs) around 40. Although the device has a diode-like structure, it functions more like cathode ray tubes. the carbon nanotubes act as cathodes, and a phosphor screen in a vacuum cavity acts as the anode.

Under a strong electric field, the cathode emits tight, high-speed beams of electrons that flow through its sharp nanotube tips in a phenomenon known as field emission. The electrons then fly through the vacuum in the cavity, and hit the phosphor screen, causing it to glow.

"We have found that a cathode with highly crystalline single-walled carbon nanotubes and an anode with the improved phosphor screen in our diode structure obtained no flicker field emission current and good brightness homogeneity," Shimoi said.

According to the researchers, field emission electron sources can provide intense electron beams that are about a thousand times denser than conventional thermionic cathode (like filaments in an incandescent light bulb). The high electron beam density translates to lower power consumption during operation and a much more directional and easily controllable stream of electrons.

Highly crystalline single-walled carbon nanotubes (HCSWCNT) have nearly zero defects in the carbon network on the surface, Shimoi explained. "The resistance of cathode electrode with highly crystalline single-walled carbon nanotube is very low. Thus, the new flat-panel device has smaller energy loss compared with other current lighting devices, which can be used to make energy-efficient cathodes that with low power consumption."

"Many researchers have attempted to construct light sources with carbon nanotubes as field emitter," Shimoi said. "But nobody has developed an equivalent and simpler lighting device."

The researchers assert that the major step for device manufacture, the wet coating process, is a low-cost but stable method of fabricating large-area, uniformly thin films. The flat-plane emission device has the potential to provide a new approach to lighting, Shimoi said.

Sharon Bahena-Garrido, Norihiro Shimoi, Daisuke Abe, Toshimasa Hojo, Yasumitsu Tanaka, Kazuyuki Tohji. Review of Scientific Instruments. October 14, 2014. (DOI: 10.1063/1.4895913).

It can also be accessed at http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/journal/rsi/85/10/10.1063/1.4895913

Molex Introduces New Lite-Trap™ SMT Wire-to-Board Connector System with Low Profile
LIGHTimes News Staff

October 16, 2014...Molex Incorporated of Lisle, Illinois USA, announced its new Lite-Trap™ SMT Wire-to-Board Connector System. The new connector system features an overall compact size that is ideal for thin LED lighting-module applications. It has a profile height of merely 4.20mm.

The company says that this push-button style connector offers one of the lowest profiles and wire insertion forces available compared to wire-removable type connectors.

“With dedication to innovation, Molex meets the needs of LED lighting manufacturers by designing a connector system that reduces component height on boards in order to achieve thinner designs and minimize shadowing or interference with the light source,” commented Goji Tanabe, product manager, Molex.

The termination method of the Lite-Trap Connector is similar to the established Molex Wire Trap Connectors, as well as certain ‘poke-in’ types, but requires a lower wire insertion force.

A stripped wire is inserted into the connector and pushes open a dual-contact gate-style terminal that ’traps’ the wire. The company says it offers a secure electrical contact and high wire-retention force. The company says it is easy for operators to engage and disengage without the use of a tool. According to Molex, field assembly and removal if need are easy with these features.

The Molex Lite-Trap Connector also includes a long wire insulation design that offers stable wire placement for added contact and a wire stopper feature that ensures correct wire insertion depth.

Intelligent LED Solutions Launches New UV LEDs for Industrial Applications
LIGHTimes News Staff

October 16, 2014...Intelligent LED Solutions (ILS) of the UK, has launched new high-power UV LEDs for industrial applications. The company designed the UV power LED to have higher thermal endurance, for better reliability at higher temperatures. The UV LED comes in a range of output powers, package formats and wavelength options ranging from 365nm to 420nm and output from 320mW to 7000mW.

The high power UV LED range is suited for industrial applications such as DNA sequencing, counterfeit detection, polymer curing, ink curing, aquarium lighting, and medical applications. The UV LED has a vertical chip structure on the company’s patented metal alloy substrate. The LED offers the company’s advances in optical output and high thermal conductivity.

“UV LED technology is playing an increasing role in industrial design,” said Adrian Amor, director at ILS. “The new high power UV LED range pushes the boundaries of what is possible. The high power LED offers a more efficient and more robust solution for engineers working to develop demanding applications that require a UV light source.”

“For those exploring UV LED technology for the first time, our team at ILS are able to provide design support and prototyping within the European market place,” said Adrian Amor. “We also have the capability to deliver production LED and assemblies to wherever in the world that the customer’s manufacturing or assembly is being undertaken.”

ILS is making available star boards with wires, strips and component LEDs through RS Components.

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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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