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Commentary: What We Can and What We Still Cannot Do with LEDs
... In recent years, the LED makers have raised the bar on performance of their LED chips and modules. One of the biggest changes has been in lumens per dollar. In both the high-power and mid-power LED chips and modules. Cree, Osram, and Philips have been at the forefront of...

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LG Innotek Launches AC Direct LED Lighting Modules and Packages
SSL Design News Staff

September 11, 2014...LG Innotek of Seoul, Korea, announced that the company is beginning to produce Alternating Current (AC) direct LED lighting packages and modules. On the surface, these appear to be similar at least in function to the Acrich modules from another Seoul-based company, Seoul Semiconductor.

The company points out that AC direct LEDs rely on alternating current, the standard power format for lighting in homes, offices, hospitality, and retail. Conventional LED lighting uses Direct Current (DC) with Switched Mode Power Supply (SMPS) units. SMPS units reportedly add cost and complexity to the system.

The AC direct LED from LG Innotek embeds a micro-drive integrated chip in the LED that controls the current. The company notes that this allows the LED solution to occupy a smaller space than conventional LED solutions that require SMPS units. LG Innotek contends that it can reduce costs by up to 30 percent compared to conventional DC LED solutions.

LG Innotek is debuting a range of eight products. These products include five types of AC direct LED packages and three types of lighting modules (a packaged LED with an integrated circuit board). The company plans to market three more AC LED modules and two more AC LED packages this year.

AC direct LED packages include the 5250HV(High Voltage), 3030HV and the 5630 HV. The 5630HV operates at about 136lm/W. The company claims that it achieves the world’s highest efficacy for an AC LED. The company optimized the 3030 HV package for micro bulbs like G9 and G4. The 5630 HV and 5250 HV type packages have received LM80 certification, the U.S. reliability test standard for LED lighting.

The AC direct modules are ideal for down lighting. The company's AC direct LED modules provide light efficiency of 125lm/W, which the company claims is the best performance in 23W category. The AC direct modules have a CRI above 80 with an optimized light pattern design for excellent light uniformity. AC direct modules for down lighting avoid dark spots with a uniform light distribution from a light source placed in the center. The modules also have built-in connectors to the power source.

A surge protection circuit is embedded in the AC direct modules for bulbs. The AC module for bulbs is ideal for lighting applications requiring size optimization because it does not require auxiliary circuits and has a lower cost than LED modules that do require one. The company plans to offer a 3030W HV package optimized for omnidirectional bulbs as well as bulb modules and surface modules later this year.

IKEA GreenTech Invests in Scottish Company that Makes Light Tiles
SSL Design News Staff

August 28, 2014...IKEA GreenTech, an IKEA Group venture capital company, reported that it has invested in Design LED Products Ltd, a Scottish company that has developed unique, energy efficient “light tiles” . The thin and flexible light tiles are LEDs embedded into clear resins and films. Design LED Products boasts that the light tiles are low cost and can be seamlessly joined into exciting new designs.

The investment will support the IKEA Group Sustainability Strategy, People & Planet Positive, which aims to enable customers to save energy and live more sustainably.

“This technology opens up fantastic possibilities for innovative designs using energy efficient LEDs. The partnership is a clear strategic fit for IKEA and our goal to make living sustainably affordable and attractive for millions of people,” said Christian Ehrenborg, Managing Director, IKEA GreenTech AB

IKEA plans to switch its entire lighting range to LED technology by September 2015. The investment will enable Design LED to expand its business and to increase its offer of products that can be used in lighting designs for the home.

“This strategic investment allows Design LED to significantly accelerate plans to deliver highly differentiated products to an international market desperate to conserve energy, and hungry for exciting new form factors in LED lighting,” said Stuart Bain, CEO, Design LED Products Ltd

Existing Design LED Products shareholders also invested alongside IKEA GreenTech, including most significantly Scottish Enterprise, via its investment arm the Scottish Investment Bank. A number of Scottish “business angel” investment groups also participated in this investment round, including Strathtay Ventures, Tricap Ventures, and Highland Ventures.

Cree and Lextar Electronics Announce Investment, Supply, and Licensing Agreement
LIGHTimes News Staff

August 27, 2014...Durham, North Carolina- based Cree, Inc. has reportedly agreed to invest in Lextar Electronics Corporation and supply Lextar with sapphire-based LED chips. Under the terms of the agreement, Cree will invest about $83 million to purchase 83 million Lextar shares at NT$30 per share. Lextar and Cree are also entering into a long-term LED chip supply agreement and a royalty-bearing license agreement for certain Cree LED chip and component intellectual property. Upon the closing of the investment, Cree will own about 13% of Lextar.

The boards of directors of both companies have approved the investment, supply and licensing agreement scheduled to close in Cree’s second quarter of fiscal year 2015, pending the approval of Lextar’s shareholders and the Taiwan Investment Committee, and other customary closing conditions.

Chuck Swoboda, Cree Chairman and CEO said, “Working with Lextar to supply high-quality, mid-power LED chips enables Cree to focus its resources on the high-performance, high-power LED chips that differentiate Cree LEDs in the market. This approach provides the operational and financial flexibility to help Cree achieve the best return on our people and invested capital.”

“Lextar has established a strong technology position and customer base in the mid-power backlighting LED segment, while Cree has had outstanding performance in the high-power LED component and lighting markets,” said Dr. David Su, Chairman and CEO of Lextar. “The cross license of LED chip and component intellectual property will afford both Cree and Lextar the benefits from our product and technology development, thereby strengthening our mutual competitiveness in the global LED industry.”

SemiLEDs Debuts New Chip Scale ReadyMount™ EC LED Series
LIGHTimes News Staff

August 27, 2014...SemiLEDs Corporation has made available its latest line of white chip scale packages, the ReadyMount™ Enhanced CSP, or EC series. The EC series combines the company’s Enhanced Flip chip (EF) approach with its ReadyWhite™ phosphor technology. SemiLEDs boasts that the EC series offers unprecedented reliability, manufacturability, and flexibility in a single 1.4 x 1.4mm low-profile packaged LED chip. The EC LED series, an SMD component, is rated for input power of up to 3W and is ready for surface mounting on any board level module or COB application. According to the company, this flexibility in mounting on board level modules or COB applications lowers capital costs and enables very high lumen density designs.

Mark Tuttle, general manager for SemiLEDs Optoelectronics Co., Ltd., commented, “Our unique Chip Scale Package (CSP) brings all the benefits of SemiLEDs’ rugged EF Series FlipChip architecture to an extremely compact emitter, which is simple to integrate using standard tape and reel surface mount manufacturing. This innovation reduces final component cost up to 50%, with a packaging cost reduction of up to 80% over conventional packaging. EC Series products, such as the EC-W1414, enable system-integrators and luminaire manufacturers a direct path to a highly cost effective solution on a per-lumen basis now, with additional viewing angles and die sizes under development.”

While useful for compact multi-die white LED packages, SemiLEDs says that its ReadyMount products are particularly useful for light-engine and luminaire manufacturers who previously relied exclusively upon packaged die solutions. The EC Series incorporates the EF FlipChip design in which the electrical contacts are positioned on the bottom of the chip. The bottom positioning leaves an emitting surface that is uninterrupted by top-side electrodes or wire bonds. The compact chip-scale package measures just 0.4mm high. At 1A, it can produce outputs of up to 300 lumens. The SemiLEDs EC series comes in standard ReadyWhite™ correlated color temperatures from 2700K to 10,000K with color rendering indices up to 90 minimum. The elimination of the wire allows nearly edge-to-edge emitting chip surface. Therefore, die can be mounted very close together.

The company says that the glass top surface is also very mechanically robust, unlike flip chips or wire-bond with a silicone covering. According to SemiLeds, the ReadyWhite technology enables the typical 145-degree field of view to provide good color-over-angle characteristics. The SemiLEDs EC series is ideal for architectural, indoor, and outdoor lighting, as well as torches/flashlights. The company notes that the LED series’ rugged architecture and compact size are also well suited for LCD backlighting and mobile device flashes. SemiLEDs’ EC series of LED chips is RoHS compliant with production quantities now available.

DOE Publishes 2014 SSL Manufacturing R&D Roadmap
SSL Design News Staff

August 21, 2014...The U.S. Department of Energy published the 2014 Solid-State Lighting Manufacturing R&D Roadmap. The updated Roadmap complements the SSL R&D Multi-Year Program Plan that guides the Product Development and Core Technology R&D programs. One of the roadmap's goals is to guide the Manufacturing R&D program and help direct funding solicitations for it. The Roadmap also offers guidance for material and equipment suppliers, based on industry consensus about the expected evolution of SSL manufacturing.

Industry feedback for the updated report comes from a series of roundtables with invited experts and from the attendees of DOE's SSL Manufacturing R&D Workshop that was held in May in San Diego. The 2014 Roadmap adds the discussion of the OLED manufacturing cost model. DOE says it will continue to update the Roadmap annually in collaboration with industry partners, to provide an outline of research and process development priorities, and new analysis as the technology and marketplace evolve.

Download the 2014 Manufacturing Roadmap.

Navigant Consulting conducted the analysis update. Navigant concluded that in the U.S. the annual source energy savings from LED lighting in 2013 more than doubled from the previous year to 188 trillion British thermal units (BTUs). Navigant points out that this is equivalent to an annual energy cost savings of about $1.8 billion.

While these current energy savings are significant, market penetration is still quite modest. Navigant estimates that LED-based A-lamps make up only about 1 percent of all installed A-lamps. However, the company asserts that growth is happening rapidly. Navigant also reported that from 2012 to 2013 that the U.S. installed base of LEDs in general lighting applications had more than doubled to about 105 million units.

Navigant further concluded this that the 188 trillion BTU savings is a tiny fraction that of the potential energy savings that complete adoption of SSL lighting in U.S., 4.1 quadrillion BTU. Navigant says that while widespread adoption may be several years in the future, the potential reveals the need of developing a robust, high-capacity manufacturing capability for SSL. Market adoption is likely to accelerate as prices continue to fall, and unit sales are expected to increase at a much faster rate than revenues, according to Navigant.

In response to this energy-saving opportunity, the DOE launched the SSL manufacturing initiative in 2009 to improve SSL product quality and consistency, establish a strong SSL manufacturing base, and support reductions in SSL manufacturing cost in the U.S.

Current projects that the DOE Manufacturing Initiative supports include Philips Lumileds’ development of patterned sapphire substrate technology for lighting caliber LEDs, Cree’s development of lower cost integrated LED luminaires, and OLEDWorks’ development of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) deposition technology for OLED lighting products. DOE-supported SSL manufacturing R&D projects cover much of the value chain of SSL production, including designs for lower costs, process improvements, manufacturing equipment, testing, and materials.

The DOE engaged the LED community through a "Round-Table" meeting of invited experts to review the state of LED-SSL manufacturing technology and identify areas for improvement. The DOE followed the meeting with its SSL Manufacturing R&D workshop and a post-workshop conference call held among participants.

The participants drew several conclusions:

  1. Achieving the targeted color point adds complexity and cost to the luminaire manufacturing process especially in applications demanding tight color control.
  2. Long-term color stability is still poorly understood for LED -based lighting products and (probably OLED as well). Mitigating color shift over time adds to the cost of LED lighting products. Furthermore, the participants report concludes that the ability to understand and predict color shift over time would simplify the manufacturing process, reduce manufacturing costs, and increase consumer confidence in LED lighting products.
  3. Luminaire manufacturing is now putting less emphasis on the lamp-fixture paradigm and placing more emphasis on integrated luminaires minimize cost and maximize efficiency.
  4. The report concludes that highly flexible luminaire and module manufacturing will be needed to accommodate the enormous variety of designs that customers demanded. Production lines will have to be efficient and cost-effective, even with relatively low numbers for any given product variant. The required production line improvements may call for innovative and perhaps more flexible manufacturing methods and equipment.
  5. The manufacturing of phosphors and down converters and their process of being applied to LEDs is costly, and innovations in this area could potentially reduce cost, simplify the manufacturing process, improve color quality, increase light output, and improve efficacy.
  6. The domestic OLED community could work together to create a viable OLED lighting manufacturing infrastructure and promote consumer acceptance of OLED products. Larger volume production is required to exercise the supply chain and manufacturing processes in order to identify weaknesses and opportunities.
  7. The OLED community is preparing to introduce products for lighting by examining the barriers in the adoption of LED lighting and understanding the needs of lighting designers and luminaire makers.
  8. OLED fabrication methods including vapor deposition approaches and hybrid approaches are being explored. Efforts are underway to promote a panel fabrication process solution.

The report concluded that currently, the main challenge for LED lighting is to continue ramping up production and drive down costs while maintaining product quality and consistency. The emerging challenge is to demonstrate to consumers the value that LED technology offers in terms of extended lifetime, energy consumption and added functionality while avoiding consumer disappointment.

In the short-term, the expansion of LED lighting manufacturing capacity will require the refinement of existing manufacturing approaches. Longer-term, it will require the introduction of innovative approaches to lighting product design and manufacturing.

The report asserts that the biggest challenge for OLEDs is to develop acceptable, cost-effective manufacturing processes beyond what is being done for the manufacturing of OLED displays and build demand by identifying lighting applications that play to the strengths of OLED technology.

Mid-Power LEDs to Comprise 48 Percent of Packaged LED Revenue in 2014, IHS Predicts
LIGHTimes News Staff

August 19, 2014...The 2014 lighting end market is expected to comprise about 35 percent of all revenues from packaged LEDs, according to IHS. IHS points at that for the first time, the end lighting market for packaged LEDs is greater than the market for packaged LEDs in all backlighting combined. In 2013, backlighting and Lighting each accounted for 31 percent of market revenue, IHS indicated. IHS forecasts that Mid-power devices will make up about 48 percent of packaged LED revenue in lighting applications in 2014 and 81 percent of units sold.

The market has changed drastically in recent years. Back in 2010, high power LEDs such as 1-watt devices dominated the market, IHS noted. In the west, the percentage of revenue from mid power LEDs is lower. IHS found that in Asia however, the percentage is higher. The company points out that numerous Chinese suppliers that sell LEDs to their large domestic market primarily produce mid-power LEDs.

From 2011 to 2013, the market for mid-power LEDs grew rapidly. IHS says that this rapid growth was driven by the attractive dollar-per-lumen ratio and the availability packaged LEDs previously used for backlighting. South Korean companies such as Seoul Semiconductor and Samsung initially led this trend. However, mid power LEDs are an essential part of the packaged LED portfolios of most global companies now. Other suppliers such as Cree, Lumileds, and Nichia have followed the trend, IHS says.

While Cree is the largest provider of packaged LEDs in lighting applications. Philips Lumileds is a close second. Despite this, competition from Asian companies has increased in last few years in lighting applications.

During 2015 and beyond, IHS predicts that the share of mid-power will continue to increase. Also according to IHS, the proportion of chip-on-board (COB) LEDs of the packaged LED market is growing and playing an increasingly important role because companies are designing completed lighting products for a wider variety of target end markets. IHS says that high-power LEDs are still popular in areas such as street lighting and should retain a strong presence in the market.

Excluding lighting, the rest of the LED market is almost completely flat from year–to-year. IHS predicts that the rest of the packaged LED market will remain flat until 2019. The lighting market, led by mid-power LEDs, will drive the growth, IHS contends.

SemiLEDs Launches Complete 80mil EV LED Chip Family
LIGHTimes News Staff

August 14, 2014...SemiLEDs of Chunan, Taiwan has begun sampling and made available in high volume, a complete line of 80x80mil rugged metal LED chips, including blue, UV, and white varieties. A single member of the EV-80mil family can typically replace four 40x40mil LED chips and minimize shadow effects and color fringing, which are common among multi-chip devices. The EV family combines a vertical LED architecture with rugged copper-alloy substrates. has proven to be especially. SemiLEDs asserts that the EV family is ideal for handling the large-chip implementation and their increased thermal and electrical demands.

Mark Tuttle, General Manager for SemiLEDs Optoelectronics Co., Ltd., commented, “Applications in commercial and residential lighting, along with UV industrial applications, share the common challenge of achieving high output in compact form-factors, in the most cost-effective manner. SemiLEDs’ unique vertical-metal architectures allow these devices to be driven hard, without compromising either their stability or reliability, allowing packagers and integrators to deliver maximum optical power from extremely small package or chip-on-board footprints.” Mr. Tuttle continued, “The EV-80mil line is also able to deliver substantial versatility, including die-level white options that incorporate SemiLEDs’ proprietary ReadyWhite™ phosphor coating technology, which minimizes blue-leakage and delivers impressive levels of color uniformity with tight binning options for low-profile and multi-color white packaged LEDs.”

The new EV-80mil ReadyWhite™ chips employ the company's proprietary phosphor technology. At 3A chips in a typical 5x5mm ceramic package, can reportedly provide up to 1200 lumens. They chips come in correlated color temperatures (CCTs) ranging from 2600 to 10,000K, and after packaging, they have color rendering indices from a minimum 65 to a minimum of 90.

SemiLEDs’ ReadyWhite™ solutions when combined with the company's vertical LED chip architecture, deliver a package-ready white chip to single- or multi-die or COB packaging applications. The company claims that its ReadyWhite phosphor technology eliminates the need for costly phosphor manufacturing technology. At currents below 1.0A, the 80mil ReadyWhite chips offer up to 145 cool white lumens per watt in typical package configurations and are suited for outdoor street or area lighting, or heavy duty flashlights/torches.

The 80mil blue chips come in standard wavelengths ranging from 445 to 460nm, with wavelength options up to 470nm available upon request. The chips in typical ceramic packaging provide up to 4000mW of optical power at 450nm. SemiLED says that single-chip implementations of the ReadyWhite and blue chips are ideal for kilolumen applications requiring a narrow beam pattern because of their simplified optics and compact emitter sizes such as MR/GU/PAR spotlights, projectors, and automotive front lighting.

“While much of the news in the LED industry is focused on general lighting, there is an incredible amount of innovation going on in the industrial and medical arenas,” Mr. Tuttle continued. “The 80mil UV solution from SemiLEDs allows tremendous power per square millimeter for high output-density industrial requirements. Applications ranging from spot curing to 3D printing and fiber optic coupled systems, as well as completely new applications, are all benefitting from the increased optical control that is enabled by solid state solutions such as SemiLEDs single-die 80mil series,” he said.

The UV 80mil is available in wavelengths ranging from 360 to 420nm. At 3A in typical ceramic packages, the UV 80mil has optical outputs up to 4000mW. The UV LED is for industrial applications, such as spot curing of inks, polymers, and adhesives, 3D printing, and fiber optic coupled systems. The design of the 80mil enables an 8-10W single chip point source, eliminating the need for sophisticated optical designs to collimate light and avoiding dark gaps that are inherent with using multiple smaller chips. The single chip design enables varying the beam patterns through secondary optics, maximizes delivered UV optical power across the target areas, and increases UV exposure consistency. SemiLEDs’ EV-80mil LED chips are RoHS compliant with production quantities available now.

Osram Continues Restructing with Planned 7,800 Layoffs Due to Traditional Lighting Business Decline
LIGHTimes News Staff

July 31, 2014...Osram's substantial gains with LED-based products in the third quarter of the fiscal year 2014, nearly offset the considerable shrinkage of its traditional general illumination business. The company's revenue dropped somewhat by one percent year-on-year to about €1.2 billion. Osram's LED-based products business, posted a revenue increase of 21 percent in the third quarter for 38 percent of consolidated group revenue.

The company announced measures to improve the competitiveness of its operating units. Osram says it plans on eliminating 7,800 positions globally over the next three fiscal years. The staff elimination will reportedly include about 1,700 domestic positions and around 6,100 international positions. As part of the previously announced second phase of the OSRAM effort, the company now plans to begin further process improvements and adjust the company business structure after consulting employee representatives.

Osram began the first stage its restructuring in 2012. The company says that all measures for the first stage of its restructuring are being implemented or have been completed. At the end of the third quarter, the cumulated gross savings from these efforts totaled to aproximately €760 million, including €118 million from the recent quarter.

During the second stage of the restructuring Osram indicated that it will greatly reduce the production capacities of traditional lighting products and will reduce its staff accordingly. In total, the company intends the measures to lead to a permanent cost reduction of about €260 million until the end of the fiscal year 2017. Osram expects the gross costs to amount to about €450 million in the same period.

Osram Opto Semiconductor's, the company's opto semiconductor business segment posted a 5 percent revenue increase over the same period a year ago. About €5 million of the improvement comes from the business segment's recent licensing agreement.

Osram's Automotive Lighting and Display/Optics units, continued to experience rising demand in the automotive segment to achieve a comparable revenue increase of ten percent. About 33 percent of total revenue in the segment came from LEDs. The LED Lamps & Systems (LLS) reporting segment that covers the business with LED lamps, light engines as well as LED drivers posted comparable revenue growth of 68 percent in the third quarter due to the fast-growing LED demand.

The Luminaires & Solutions (LS) reporting segment, which is comprised of luminaires for professional customers, products for consumers, in addition to the service and solutions business, recorded a sales decline of 13 percent in the third quarter because of the reorganization of the service business in North America. However, strong growth of LED-based luminaires segment the luminaires business posted a comparable revenue increase.

“While earnings continue to develop nicely, the growing market acceptance of LED technology is, as already announced, causing a significantly faster decline of the traditional business,” said Wolfgang Dehen, CEO of OSRAM Licht AG. “We will successfully complete the first stage of OSRAM Push shortly. However, we have always stressed that the transformation of the lighting market will also continue after 2014 and that it will require additional capacity adjustments. Against the backdrop of the latest developments, additional measures are now necessary to safeguard our position as a leading lighting manufacturer in the long term. We need to be even closer to the customer, further strengthen the entrepreneurship of our segments and at the same time create cost structures that are appropriate to the size of the company, but also to that of its individual businesses.”

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