The LED lighting market is constantly growing and changing based on the introduction of new materials and products. In order for LED lighting to become mainstream globally, its’ pricing needs to become more competitive with conventional sources. Several LED manufacturers such as Toshiba and Plessey have been developing technology using a cheaper substrate than sapphire to produce LEDs. The advantages of silicon in this effort include: its high-abundancy, low material cost, established supply chain and large knowledge-base for device fabrication. Gallium nitride (GaN) is the material of choice for the active-area LED device response, and it is deposited mainly on sapphire wafers. A status update was published in April on the development of GaN-on-Si LEDs by Plessey. However, this company and Toshiba have had announcements this week regarding new LED lighting products.
Plessey recently announced the first commercially-available GaN on six-inch diameter silicon LEDs in April 2013 using an Aixtron CRIUS II reactor. Plessey stated on Monday in a press release that samples of its 350mW LED product, a high-current device operating between 350mA and 2A, are now available. These LED lighting products are manufactured on Plessey’s 6-inch MAGIC (Manufactured on GaN I/C) line at its Plymouth, England facility and are targeting entertainment-type applications such as accent lighting, wall washing, strip-lighting and pulse lighting applications for shows and arenas.
Today, Toshiba announced two mid-power white LED families that are being manufactured using GaN-on-Si technology it acquired from Bridgelux, a California-based startup. The company stated that the LEDs offered in 3×3-mm 3030 and 3×1.4-mm 3014 packages are especially designed for indoor general lighting applications such as retrofit lamps and tubes to planar fixtures. In addition, the two new LED product lines are available across a variety of 2700K to 6500K correlated color temperatures (CCTs) with a minimum color rending index (CRI) of 80, which are both key technical color quality metrics. The TL3GA series (3030 package) can be operated over the range of 0.6–0.9W, whereas the TL2FK series (3014 package) can be operated over a range of 0.2–0.5W, both very low power levels. Toshiba has made major strides in developing more energy-efficient, low-power solid-state lighting (SSL) products. The single-emitter TL2FK products have a typical forward voltage of only 2.85V, while the dual-emitter TL3GA products have a forward voltage of 5.7V.
However, the efficacy of the GaN-on-Si products from Toshiba and Plessey pales in comparison to the efficacy of sapphire-based mid-power LEDs, but Toshiba still has the pole position in this field with the capital and growth potential to take market share from top-tier LED companies over the next seven years. Even though most forecasts limit the potential of GaN-on-Si LEDs, such as the recent one by Lux Research that predicts it will constitute only 10 percent market share globally by 2020, an 8-10 billion dollar market opportunity geared towards residential lighting is nothing to sneeze at.
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