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2006-10-24
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Editorial: Impressions from Senior Technical Editor, Alan Thompson About Intertech/PIRA's LED Conference
 
... I recently attended the Intertech/PIRA LEDs 2006 Conference, which was held in San Diego, California October 16-18th. Rather than giving a run down of all the speakers and their presentations, I thought I would highlight a few topics that caught my interest and pose some questions raised by them....
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Commentary...
Impressions from Senior Technical Editor, Alan Thompson About Intertech/PIRA's LED Conference

 
... I recently attended the Intertech/PIRA LEDs 2006 Conference, which was held in San Diego, California October 16-18th. Rather than giving a run down of all the speakers and their presentations, I thought I would highlight a few topics that caught my interest and pose some questions raised by them....

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

Dominant Semiconductors' LEDs Chosen for Shell Gas Stations
Scott McMahan

October 23, 2006...Shell gas stations are among a growing number of gas stations that have chosen to use LED technology for general lighting of their canopies. Dominant Semiconductors of Malaysia reports that it has been chosen by Shell Corporation to provide LED lighting for the company’s logo panels and canopies.

Bottom-line minded businesses are more likely to be among the early adopters of LED technology for general lighting. Gas stations provide a perfect opportunity for LED technology to shine. Dominant says that their power LEDs have been integrated into the company’s logo panel and canopy to enhance the petrol station lighting system. Although not completely replacing other light sources, Shell gas stations have made a good start with their LED adoption. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

Luminus Devices Introduces PhlatLight PT120 for Texas Instruments DLP Technology
LIGHTimes Staff

October 23, 2006...Luminus Devices has introduced its new Phlatlight PT120 LED light source for Texas Instruments’ 1080p DLP technology. Luminus reported that its microdisplay projection television customers are sampling its PhlatLight PT 120 chipset. According to the company, the red, blue, and green LEDs in the PT120 chipset combine to produce more than 1500 lumens of white light under normal operating conditions. The company says that this is enough brightness to illuminate rear projection televisions of up to 62 inches with a single RGB chipset.

The company indicated that although the chipset is suitable for any microdisplay smaller than 0.7 inches, the chipset was specifically designed to work with Texas Instruments’ technology. Luminus Devices contends that the size and shape of the PT120 allow users to maximize the amount of light that can be collected and projected onto the screen. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

Catalyst Semiconductor Introduces 500mA Inductive LED Driver for Movie/Flash Applications
LIGHTimes Staff

October 23, 2006...Catalyst Semiconductor has released a new 500mA inductive LED driver for movie/flash mode applications. The company, a supplier of analog, mixed-signal, and non-volatile memory semiconductors located in Santa Clara, California USA, is now offering the CAT4134, which the company says increases the efficiency and simplifies the design of industrial video lighting, still camera, flashlight, LCD backlighting, and other high-power LED applications. According to the company, it allows designers to set the exact flash and movie modes required via a single resistor. In this way it minimizes the need for external circuitry. The device can drive up to six white or six color LEDs. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

Cree Reports Solid Revenues for Q1 Fiscal 2007, But Profits Down
LIGHTimes Staff

October 20, 2006...Cree reported revenues of $103.9 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2007, ending September 24, 2006. Cree pointed out that the revenues represent a 1 percent increase compared to the same period a year ago. Revenues came in the middle of the previously announced expectations of $102 to $106 million. Profit declined about 39 percent to $13.29 million from $21.72 million for the same period a year ago.“Q1 was a solid quarter for Cree, as we delivered earnings at the high end of our previously announced target range,” stated Chuck Swoboda, Cree chairman and CEO. “While short-term market conditions remain challenging, we continue to make outstanding progress towards our goal of enabling LEDs to become a cost-effective, energy-saving alternative for lighting applications. The recently introduced EZBright1000 LED power chip and the latest XLamp 7090 power LED have established a new class of performance by dramatically increasing the light output and efficiency provided by LEDs. Looking forward, we are on track with our strategy to broaden our product lines into higher-value components for the tremendous markets in lighting and power.” LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

Osram Introduces New Generation of MicroSideLEDs for Thin Display Backlighting
LIGHTimes Staff

October 19, 2006...Osram Opto Semiconductors, a San Jose-based wholly owned subsidiary of German company Osram, has announced a new generation of side-emitting MicroSideLEDs. The company contends that the packaged LEDs make batteries last longer, and the LEDs are reportedly ideal for low profile, backlighting applications. The new MicroSideLED is only 0.6 mm tall. The company says that because of advances in thin film technology, the LEDs are about 30 percent brighter than the previous versions of the MicroSideLEDs. Instead of a mere 0.9 cd, the new MicroSideLEDs each produce 1.6 cd, according to the company. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

CPT Unveils Several New TV and Backlight Panel Technologies at FPD International
LIGHTimes Staff

October 20, 2006...Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT) showcased several new backlight panel technologies at FPD International in Yokohama, Japan, October 18-20, according to an article in Digitimes. The company unveiled its 80,000:1-contrast LED technology, a 47-inch TV panel to be rolled out in the first quarter of 2007, and the company’s first color filter (CF)-less LED backlighting technology. CPT’s 80,000:1-contrast technology apparently utilizes area control to bring the contrast to such a high level, the Digitimes article indicated. However, CPT told Digitimes it has no plans to mass produce the technology because costs for LED backlighting are still high compared to CFL backlighting. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

National Semiconductor Introduces New Family of LED Drivers for Power LEDs
LIGHTimes Staff

October 18, 2006...National Semiconductor introduced a new line of LED drivers for power LEDs at the Light Emitting Diodes Conference in San Diego, California USA. According to the company the drivers are designed to power 1- to 5-watt LEDs in automotive, industrial, and general lighting applications. The company said the LM3402, LM3404 and LM3405 LED drivers offer a wide input voltage range and provides a constant current to regulate the LED brightness and low feedback voltage to minimize power dissipation. LIGHTimes SecondPage members login for more. Guests can view membership details.

Permlight Gets New President and CEO
LIGHTimes Staff

October 17, 2006...One of the early companies to produce LED products for in-home, residential lighting, Permlight Products Inc., has appointed a new president and CEO. In a statement to investors, Phil Frey, Permlight’s interim CEO who took over the position from Manuel Lynch, introduced Fernando Lynch, Manuel’s brother, who will take the reins from Frey. According to the company, Fernando Lynch joined as VP of sales in October 2005. Frey said, "After working with Fernando Lynch closely and seeing his responsiveness to both our customers and suppliers, it became apparent that he should be the one to lead this company into the future." He added, "I’m confident you well see his enthusiasm for our product line and more importantly his careful and planned approach to solving problems and expanding our business. He is customer friendly and supplier sensitive. I’m sure you’ll enjoy working with him in his new role as your have in the past."

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Commentary & Perspective...

Impressions from Senior Technical Editor, Alan Thompson About Intertech/PIRA's LED Conference
Alan Thompson, Senior Technology Editor

October 24, 2006...I recently attended the Intertech/PIRA LEDs 2006 Conference, which was held in San Diego, California October 16-18th. Rather than giving a run down of all the speakers and their presentations, I thought I would highlight a few topics that caught my interest and pose some questions raised by them. For those interested, the complete program is posted on the Intertech web site, www.intertechusa.com.

A very interesting workshop was presented prior to the main conference by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a division of the World Bank that is tasked with enabling commercial opportunities to improve people’s lives. They have a project to bring SSL to people who have no access to a grid and who rely largely on kerosene based devices for their lighting needs. The genesis of this project was presented 2 years ago by Russell Sturm and has now grown to the point where industry can step up and participate. Russell and colleague Fabio Nehme, assisted by consultants Evan Mills (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab), Arne Jacobson (Humboldt State University), and Katherine Conway (LED Consulting), gave a comprehensive look at this novel opportunity. I certainly cannot cover all their points in the space I have here, but let me hit a couple of the high spots.

There are 1.6 billion people who have no power grid access, and they spend US$38 billion per year on hardware and fuel (lamps, candles, batteries and kerosene). Kerosene is the most inefficient fuel for lighting and has well documented negative health and environmental impacts. However, it has usually been the only available solution. This unfortunate fact of international life has been underscored by David Irvine-Halliday when publicizing his admirable Light Up The World Foundation (www.LUTW.org). While groups such as LUTW solicit charitable contributions and buy and donate solar powered lights (the most recent large benefactor being Shuji Nakamura, ref: Sept. 8th headline news) the IFC group believes a much larger impact can be made through commercial endeavors. After all, most companies are not in business to give away their products or they would soon go out of business. However, all the companies that I have talked to over the last year would welcome an opportunity to do some good and make some money at the same time. The possibility of cooperating with local companies for assembly, distribution, sales and servicing also suggests good job creation. The IFC project targets Kenya and Ghana initially with in-country market research and testing of potential products. If you make LED products and are interested in what could be a multi-billion dollar opportunity, please go to the IFC web site www.ifc.org/led and/or talk to Russell or Fabio

With the maturing of the cellphone market, the LED community has busied itself with trying to figure out the next killer application to keep us growing at our accustomed rapid pace, and this conference was no exception. For my money, one of the better ideas was presented by Mark McClear of Cree. He gave an interesting (and sometimes humorous) account of their attempt to build a competitive street light to replace current HID based products. After realizing that retrofitting the existing head was not the way to go they came up with a completely different looking head that gave the same illumination level and pattern as the HID lamp. His economic analysis showed a 3-year payback even though the LED based head is about double the price of the HID product. Interestingly (and unlike the traffic light switchover), the savings come almost entirely from bulb replacement avoidance, since the energy consumption based on today’s LEDs is similar (although we know that will improve for LEDs). With 60 million streetlights in the USA alone and about 200 million worldwide, this represents a very significant opportunity at aproximately $250 per lamp.

Brightside Technologies’ Richard MacKellar showed their high dynamic range display alongside a regular FPD using the same LCD panel. The difference was obvious and the quality of still and moving images was stunning. They use a large number of white LEDs for backlighting spread across the back of the LCD display. They drive them with special circuits to increase both the contrast ratio and the brightness. Currently the extra components cost too much, but with some volume they believe the cost differential can come down to 50 percent in a couple of years. Since customers pay 50-100 percent extra for high definition(HD) vs. enhanced definition now, this may well be a large volume market for LEDs that have high power and high efficacy. Whether they can buck current suppliers is a big question but all who saw the demo agreed they have a strong selling point.

Lastly I would like to compliment Kevin Dowling of Color Kinetics, who as usual gave a talk that was both informative and entertaining. He mentioned the DOE study on CFL lamps that is well worth a look by anybody wrestling with trying to break into the lighting market by touting the efficiency of LEDs (see www.netl.doe.gov/ssl/publications.html). This study goes a long way toward explaining why CFL lamps are in only 2% of Edison (screw-in) sockets in the USA. He then delved into lighting systems and their design and gave some interesting examples. I thought the last part of his talk was the most compelling when he discussed standards and appealed for more participation by manufacturers at all levels. He is personally involved in several of the standards organizations such as the NGLI, IES, and NEMA. I suggest you contact him through Color Kinetics if you would like to participate and help move this industry forward even more quickly.

A reminder that the opinions here are mine alone and I welcome different outlooks, corrections or discussion. Feel free to contact me directly, Alan Thompson, by direct email at "mocvd@comcast.net"

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