euroLED 2006 highlights LED lighting

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND-The 3rd euroLED Meeting in Birmingham (May 16-18, 2006) saw a rare gathering of international experts in high-brightness LEDs.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND-The 3rd euroLED Meeting in Birmingham (May 16-18, 2006) saw a rare gathering of international experts in high-brightness LEDs. With a strong emphasis on the applications targeted by leading companies, as well as market forecasters and application experts from the United States, Japan, and Europe, euroLED 2006 was designed to give a focused review of the latest developments in the highly dynamic high-brightness (HB) LED market place.

Although market research undertaken by Andrew Murray, director of Display Research for iSuppli Europe (www.isuppli.com), showed a lower than expected market growth overall in 2005 (11%), HB LEDs represent a worldwide market worth many billions of U.S. dollars with strong future growth anticipated for ultra-high-brightness devices. LEDs have already become the norm in some indication applications, but according to Mark McClear from Cree (www.cree.com; Durham, NC), HB white-light LEDs are on the verge of moving from these niche applications to true mass adoption for applications where the use of incandescent or fluorescent lighting is currently the norm. Potential ‘big white’ applications for LEDs include room lighting, task or desk lighting, automotive headlights as well as backlighting in flat-screen applications.

Aside from the environmental issues, the case for HB LED adoption lies increasingly with the potential savings made possible by the technology. Street lighting was flagged by several experts as a hot application for this very reason, as the long-life LED’s reduce the need to send out repair crews to replace lamps (also causing less inconvenience to the motorist) and also reduce power consumption compared to traditional sodium lamp sources. Indeed, the latest technological developments could mean a reduction in the expected return-on-investment (ROI) period for LED street lighting from 10 to less than 3 years.

Rapid adoption is also expected within the automotive industry, with Dr. Karsten Eichhorn of car lamp manufacturer Hella (www.hella.com) indicating that LED technology is an established technology for all automotive applications except headlights. In spite of this, LED headlights will be appearing on the Japanese automotive market as soon as this year, and general usage is anticipated by 2008.

Topics at euroLED 2006 also focused on some of the emerging applications-signage, architectural lighting and transport signaling (road, rail, and aerospace)-and the challenges faced in replacing traditional lamps with LEDs. Color matching and balance, as well as illumination uniformity (in particular over the lifetime of the LED light source) are some of the critical issues facing lighting developers. In addition, the increased directional nature of LED light output needs to be considered, although correct use of the directionality can improve uniformity and significantly reduce the light output requirements for many illumination applications compared to traditional lighting solutions.

The strong applications emphasis, providing an industry-wide snapshot of the latest developments in this field, was highly praised by the more than 300 attendees. Overall attendance at euroLED 2006 was up 3-fold from 2005, including visitors from nine other European countries (in addition to the UK), the United States, and Asia.

euroLED 2007 is scheduled to take place on June 6-7, 2007 (www.euroled.org). -GF and JL

Gregory Flinn is a technology writer and consultant for the European photonics industry(www.gregoryflinn.net; Munich, Germany) and John Lincoln is principle consultant at Harlin Ltd. (www.harlinltd.co.uk; Salisbury, United Kingdom).

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