General Lighting Future of technology LED

Tribute to Founding Father of LED: Roland Haitz

The lighting community lost one of its most brilliant minds this past summer when solid-state lighting advocate and researcher, Roland Haitz, passed away in his California home. Haitz was active in the world of light-emitting diodes until his final days, having signed on to work with QuarkStar four years ago, at the age of seventy-six. As an early supporter of LED technology, Haitz predicted that LED lighting would become the technology of choice as materials and methods of production improved. His predictions were so accurate they became known as “Haitz’s Law.”

Paying Tribute to a Mind with Universal Appeal

Roland Haitz worked for decades to bring this innovative lighting technology to the mainstream. His vision was to create a world where traditional lights, like fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, were seen as inefficient, substandard options. Haitz foresaw the global transition to solid-state lighting, long before LEDs began to penetrate the wider lighting market.

At the Strategies in Light conference in 2000, Haitz announced his prediction that the cost per lumen for LEDs would fall by a factor of ten every decade, while the amount of light generated per LED would increase by a factor of twenty. His work also predicted that LED lighting would reach an efficacy of 100 lumens per watt (lm/W) by 2010, with a cool 150180 lm/W efficacy achievable by 2020. Haitz discussed the exciting prospect of super-efficient lighting and the wide range of its possible applications, including LCD backlighting, mobile-phone flashlights, and more, which prompted a surge of investment into LED research.

light emitting diodes


A Proper Memorial

Thus far, Haitz’s Law has proved to be infallible, with LED technology advancing past the 2010 benchmark of 100 lm/W. The scope of LED lighting applications has surpassed the already-broad scope Haitz and other researchers foresaw. LED lighting has become integral to the development of technology trends such as visual light communications (VLC), the Internet of Things (IoT), and human-centric lighting (HCL).

LEDs have radiant potential thanks to the advocacy of researchers like Roland Haitz. His work motivated the lighting community to fund the development of more-efficient LEDs, which can now be found in myriad expanding applications. With LED lighting, users can control the intensity, the color, and even the direction of their light sources. With wireless communication devices and VLC, controls can be accessed via smartphone or remote. Light-emitting diode streetlights can be fitted with sensors to relay information about traffic, parking availability, humidity, and air quality. Adaptive LED car headlights can automatically sense approaching vehicles and dim when appropriate.

There is a seemingly endless number of purposes for light-emitting diodes in a variety of emerging technologies. Thanks to researchers like Roland Haitz, the future will certainly be bright—and energy-efficient.


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Is LEP Technology the Next Bright Idea in Lighting?

Over the last decade LED’s (Light Emitting Diode) have become the technology of choice in the lighting industry. Another technology called Light Emitting Plasma (LEP) has begun to gain traction as a viable alternative for applications requiring high illumination. Not only is the lighting industry taking notice, even the mainstream media has started reporting on the benefits of LEP lighting.

How LEP Lighting Works

Plasma in the lighting industry, refers to sources that have a continuous spectrum. LEP systems have three components: an emitter, a driver, and a power supply. Each emitter has a quartz capsule with a blend of gases and halides that emit light at a certain spectrum. A highly reflective material in the housing causes the light to emit forward. The driver is, at its simplest, a solid-state RF amplifier that creates electrical energy to a fully-sealed quartz lamp without electrodes or filaments. Because the electrical field is highly concentrated, it ionizes the gases and vaporizes the halides to create a plasma inside that lamp to produce and intense light source.

No electrodes, glass-to-metal seals, or other materials offer simple construction allowing the LEP to be efficient yet rugged. Benefits of this design include:

  • no waste of heat energy.
  • elimination of glass-to-metal seals.
  • no quartz wall darketing that produces lumen depreciation and failure.
  • faster warm-up and restrike times.

LEP light sources are possible today because the wireless revolution has produced cost effective, efficient, and reliable solid-state amplifiers. In addition to energy savings, LEP technology has other important attributes. LEP lighting may be dimmed to 20% output. These lamps also have a 50,000-hour life at 70% lumen maintenance, where has halide lamps have a life of 18,000 hours. Warmer color temperatures for LEP are also on the horizon.

Complements LED Usage

In most applications where high illumination is required, LEP does not compete with LED lighting. Rather, it serves as a high-output complement. To that end, LED may be used for low and medium illuminance while LEP can take over high illuminance needs because of smaller lamp size. LED and LEP lighting have the same approximate cost at the 5,000-lumen level, but LEP’s small size makes it much more cost effective as lumen output increases. LED’s, however, are more effective in their ability to scale down.

General Lighting LED

GaN on Silicon: A New Era for LEDs

LED lighting offers an increasing number of benefits for people who choose to make the switch from incandescent. Progress in LED performance continues to develop at a phenomenal rate, with the average LED efficiency currently sitting at 50%. Some laboratory tests have produced LEDs with an efficiency as high as 60% and it is expected the number will continue to rise. With such productive energy use and an extensive operating life, LEDs are taking over the market for lighting. The one gating issue to the seemingly inevitable success of the light emitting diode is the cost to produce them.

Scientists are seeking to solve the issue by developing a method of producing LEDs which will utilize more affordable materials. In the early 1990s, japanese researcher Shuji Nakamura developed a method of growing thin gallium-nitride (GaN) layers on sapphire substrates to produce high-brightness blue LEDs. As you might imagine, sapphire is an expensive substrate material and certainly adds to the cost of LED production.

A strong candidate for the replacement of sapphire is silicon. Although the material is much more common and more cost effective, there are still some obstacles to overcome. Semiconductors are characterized by the amount of space between the atoms in the crystal lattice. For optimal results, the substrate atoms should be spaced at the same distance as the atoms in the GaN layer. The mismatch causes strain which in turn causes sporadic dislocations of atoms. As a result, electrical current can leak and the LED performance is impaired.

Researchers have already begun working on several solutions to the problem. A mirror on the surface of the LED replaces the substrate after it is used to grow the GaN layer. The structure of the LED is flipped and the light is generated upwards. In addition, the high refractive index of GaN creates a narrow cone through which light can escape. By roughening the surface, scientists have been able to remove the total internal reflection (TIR) restriction. Further enhancements to light output can be made with the addition of a lens.

It is expected that, as research continues over the next few months, that GaN-on-Si LEDs will match the performance of GaN-on-Sapphire LEDs. The use of silicon as a substrate will accelerate the market for LED lighting. With the ability to reduce LED production cost while also cutting energy consumption, homeowners, property owners and other consumers are likely to save hundreds of dollars annually on their lighting related expenses.

Sports LED

LED Lighting for Volleyball Courts Makes Regulatory Compliance Easier

If you run outdoor volleyball facilities for a town, club or professional association, you know how much of a headache compliance with light-trespass and light-pollution regulations has become. Even light systems that are compliant at installation degrade in both light quality and fixture orientation, and bam—you have an unhappy neighbor or a regulatory official pounding on your door.

LED volleyball court lighting systems are now available to help you save money with greatly reduced energy costs, reduced maintenance needs, and greatly improved lighting for players. Many LED fixtures available for sports lighting now are able to reduce the energy use by 50-60% as compared to traditional HID systems. Improvements in LED technology has increased the rated life from 50,000 hours to an astounding 100,000 hours; almost 10 times the life of pulse start-metal halide lights. This extension in lamp life allows for your sports court lights to fit regulations longer.

Beyond  reduced energy use and increased life, LED lighting is carefully shaped, focused and tuned using custom optic designs to direct all the light to the ground, right where you want it, without glare to observers outside the court area and without spillage upwards to contribute to light pollution and “dark sky” impingement. This ability to direct light in specific directions helps prevent non-compliance due to a slight movement in a mounting arm. In addition, custom light optics prevents shadows on the courts as well as fixtures or lights obstructing players views.

Lower energy and maintenance costs, better lighting for court and player needs and a reduction in “light law” violations… what’s not to like?

General Lighting LED

LED Efficiency Brings Battery Power Home

For many people the mere mention of battery-powered lighting conjures memories of fumbling around the kitchen junk drawer in the dark, trying to find the magic combination of size and charge to power their flashlight or other portable device. Convenience and reliability are rarely the first things we associate with batteries. However, due to the constant improvement in energy efficiency, LED lighting is sure to become the product to turn to when sourcing portable lighting. It may be too soon for homeowners to convert all of their household lighting but when it comes to both indoor and outdoor products, LED lighting can become more than just a provider for niche accessories.

In and around the residential household, LED flashlights are already the market leader in portable lighting. However, for common outdoor products such as post-top lanterns or suspended outdoor lights, solar-charged batteries have previously been the most popular. Yet, these products have generally received criticism as solar-charged batteries are often unreliable and the battery can easily fail during the night.

Today, many leading lighting companies are reverting back to primary battery and rechargeable battery products. Though the consumer has the inconvenience of physically replacing the batteries themselves, the increase in reliability and lifespan of the battery seem to out-weigh this issue.

Latest Products

To look at some of the latest LED lighting products, we will use two examples; firstly, an LED luminaire/lantern from lighting supplier, Jasco. This luminaire can be used as a fixed nightlight or used as an alternative to a camping lantern, traditionally powered by gas. The battery version provides 300 lm whilst the plug-in version boasts 400 lm creating enough light to far surpass the light source given by a standard night light. It requires six AA-cell batteries to run it and the battery life is an impressive eight months. Low usage areas would see this battery life increase.

Secondly, we shall look at outdoor spotlights from lighting brand; Mr. Beams. This company has a variety of spotlights which all run on D-cell batteries. Mr. Beams states that with their most popular and best-selling product, the MB360, they can provide their customer with 40 hours of constant light on one set of batteries (with typical operation they believe this to be about 1 year). The light emitted is 140 lm with a coverage area of over 400 sq. feet.

It is worth mentioning smaller products that use re-chargeable batteries and are designed for everyday use of several hours per day. The Hue Glow (mood lighting product) is a good example of this and is a product which can be used indefinitely while plugged in or a few hours on a full charge.

The Future

There are currently more battery-powered lighting products on the market than ever before. The quality of many of these products are improving on a quality and are being used as an easy alternative to installing AC powered lights. Major retailers such as Costco and Fulcrum are selling under-cabinet battery powered LED light bars, porch lights, and pathway lights and are illustrating that LED light products are innovative and not inhibited by wiring or cords.

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LEDs Give Consumers New Direction with Visual Light Communications

As technology improves convenience and efficiency in practically every facet of our lives, and generations growing up with it becoming the rule—not the exception—it is only fitting that the way we shop also evolves. Besides the internet, shopping has not changed much worth noting, until today. Armed with mobile devices and swipe-ready technology, retailers are eyeing ways to take better advantage of the new digital shop-a-holic.

Follow the Lights

Combining forces with GPS and smartphone technology, visual light communications, otherwise known as VLC, is using LED lights to relay feedback to shoppers and make their experience much more interactive and efficient for both the consumer and the retailer. All the big names are invested in this trend, GE, ByteLight, Philips, and other LED brands are on-board the VLC train.

LED lighting up Aisles

So, it turns out that not only are LED lights the superior light bulb technology, but they are also the preferred method for communication for consumers with smartphones and tablets (smart watches, too). LED technology allows for rapid output of not only light, but also data to receptive devices.

The process involves LED lights flashing patterns to the camera of your devices in a quick succession that is undetectable to the human eye. This method of digital smoke signals is going to make things more seamless for the consumer, it will make Q codes and alike feel archaic.  This VLC technology will also allow for a faster method of using WiFi in the near future, once the demand for it rises.

Essentially, VLC in stores will allow for a much better understanding of customer behavior, the ability to serve them relevant information, i.e. to help find something in their aisle, and offer them more ways to interact with them.

More ways of using VLC

VLC application ideas are only limited to one’s imagination. Even in its most basic form as a more accurate form of GPS, it offers plenty of potential.  Each major company has their own plan about how they want to integrate this LED technology. Philips is using a system to send customers exact location data on items they have listed on their downloadable app. This sharing of information allows for instant offers or coupons for nearby items located in their aisle. It is like driving around town with your GPS telling you about the store across the street having a big sale or searching for stores in realtime that have an item in-stock that you are looking for.

We are sure that within the next year, you will have this seamless level of access to the things that you want, know where to find it, and know what other deals on the same item are nearby, so that you spend less time getting lost and more time buying what you want. This is a win-win for retailers and consumers everywhere.

The best part about LED lights sending data via VLC? It costs zero dollars to invest in this technology for stores who already use LED lights in their stores. Just imagine, that beaming data to smartphones can really make navigating airports and numerous venues quick and painless.  We can’t wait.

This is the stuff that truly feels like we are finally entering the future of convenience technology.  We are essentially meeting and surpassing those sci-fi depictions of how the future might look for shopping and getting around.

It is actually kind of funny now, thinking about all those futuristic movies where the tension elements are usually scrambling against the clock to locate and get precious resources, but they usually lack accurate devices to track something as small as a bag of Fritos™ on a shelf. That is a sign that we have finally made it.