LEDs are well known by the general public and each day products become a little more competitive. To offer the reader an overview of this technology, I decided to ask you for an interview. In this exercise, I asked Laurent MASSOL to assist me.
Benjamin MONTEIL. Before starting, can you present yourself and your company?
Steve Landau. Hi, my name is Steve Landau and I’m the Director of Marketing Communications at Philips Lumileds based in San Jose, CA. The company actually got its start at the opto-electronics division of Hewlett Packard in the 1960s and has evolved into the world’s leading provider and technology leader for power LEDs.
BM. Europe will ban incandescent lamps in a few years. Do you think that it is the good opportunity for the LED lamps to make an outbreak on the market?
SL. LED based solutions – solid-state lighting – would be a market factor in the lighting industry even if there were no ban of incandescent lamps. The advantages of higher efficiency and longer life are compelling on their own merits. I do think that the ban will hasten development of new solutions and cause a number of talented entrepreneurs to enter into the market with unique solutions and approaches. In addition, the development of the solid-state lighting industry creates new opportunities for complementary infrastructure companies and software and control companies.
BM. CFL are energy efficient. But if you make a life cycle assessment, you can see that CFL needs a lot of energy in order to be built and recycled and the overall balance may be detrimental to the CFL. Do you think that the LEDs are better than CFL on this point?
SL. Life cycle assessment is something that the LED industry is just starting to evaluate. It will certainly be interesting to see how things turn out. I suspect that since the lifetime potential is so great with LEDs that energy consumption will be the single greatest factor in lifecycle assessment. It’s important to remember, however, that comparing LEDs to CFL is not an appropriate comparison. LEDs on their own are just one component of a system. You can’t simply swap one LED for another. Lifecycle assessment will have to be made on the total luminaire. I do expect that ultimately solid-state lighting solutions will prove to be superior across the entire lifecycle assessment compared to CFL.
BM. A LED is an electronic component. Is this fact is a key advantage (existing recycling…) in order to be environment friendly?
SL. You’re right, it’s a primary component but so is the electronic driver. What’s most important is to compare system to system. In the case of a CFL solution there may be one fixture and multiple lamps over the course of the fixture’s lifetime. With LEDs, there’s one luminaire and one LED system. The question is how do the two compare over the entire lifetime?
BM. There are a lot of poor quality LEDs products. For the OEM market, you built a “CSP” program (company which are certified to use well Lumileds LEDs). Could you tell us if Philips Lumileds is planning to make such a program for products based around Lumileds technology? A label for instance?
SL. There are two programs in place, both founded in 2004 to help the lighting community and OEMs identify quality products and components. We operate the LUXEON Lighting Network designed for the architectural and specification community. In this program we present products that have published warranty and photometric data so that people can begin the process of evaluating luminaires. Additionally, the CSP program operated by Future Lighting Solutions is a fantastic resource for the OEM industry. They have tremendous experience working with OEMs and the complementary infrastructure market and support the development of quality components and know how to match various components with our LUXEON LEDs.
BM. Currently, there are no Philips products which are built for customers. Is this lack is going to be repaired ?
SL. There are a significant number of Philips SSL products available to customers around the world. Everything from MasterLED retrofit bulbs to Fortimo modules to the Ledino line of products to the product range from Philips Color Kinetics are available and in market. Philips is clearly providing opportunities for everyone along the SSL value chain to benefit from the company’s offerings and participate in this growing market. Whether you’re an OEM and want to buy LEDs or modules or a specifier and want a finished luminaire, Philips is providing solutions.
BM. Electronic market is actually in crisis. For instance, in Europe, electronic sales are decreasing. Do you think that LED market will resist to the collapse in 2009 due to the natural growth of an emerging technology?
SL. I think that there are very few markets immune from the effect of a down economy. There are long term benefits to adopting SSL as well as legislative initiatives that will spur adoption. How much the SSL market will be affected is yet to be seen.
Laurent Massol. Last November, Zumtobel has made a strategic agreement with CREE to supply LED downlights to the European market. What do you think about that?
SL. The solid state lighting market is still a new market – it’s really on come into its own over the last 12 months. There have been a number of announcements like the one you mentioned from the LED manufacturers over the last several years and I think in virtually every case you’ll find that the OEMs continue to work with a range of manufacturers. The reason is that the product evolution continues at such a tremendous pace that it’s in the OEMs interest to continue to evaluate and select the best LEDs for the particular application.
LEDs for future
BM. LEDs in general lighting is a goal for industry LED leaders. But LEDs solutions are currently too expensive in most applications. In order to be competitive LEDs need more light quality and quantity, but also lower prices.
SL. On an application to application comparison I don’t agree with the statement. While likely still true for the residential market, it’s clearly not entirely true for commercial markets where the metric is total cost of ownership and payback, not initial cost.
BM. Moore’s law is well known for electronic components. Haitz set out a law, called “Hait’s law” which says that LEDs performance increase by 30 / decade and the price is divided by 10 per decade. Is this movement is true since a few years? If so, do you think that this movement will continue?
SL. Philips Lumileds believes that in general, Haitz’s Law will continue to be approximately correct. We continue to see the cost per lumen decreasing and the light output increasing. If you look at numbers from the last 12 months I think it becomes clear that this is a current trend.
BM. Today, standardization is a serious problem for LEDs. For an OEM, it is impossible to have an objective and direct comparison between two LEDs ! Indeed, the white binning are different, the flux code are not the same, the lifetime haven’t got the same definition… Is it possible to reach a standardization one day?
SL. I’ll admit that it’s difficult sometimes to compare power LEDs but it’s certainly not impossible. The teams at Future Lighting Solutions are expert at helping customers understand and compare different products. Standards are part of the answer but there are two fundamental issues. First, power LEDs are not commodity products, manufacturers use different materials systems and manufacturing processes so there are real differences between the final products. Second, there is still a tremendous amount of development taking place and too many standards too early could hinder the introduction of new technology advancements. Over time, as we’ve seen with conventional low power solutions (5mm) it becomes much easier to compare products. Ultimately this will happen with power LEDs as well but I think it will be several more years before this happens.
BM. The measurement of the color rendering index CRI seems not to be adapted to LEDs. Do you think that this issue is a brake for the LED lighting market development?
SL. CRI is certainly not optimized for LEDs. It was originally based on Incandescent and then modified to accommodate fluorescent lamps. To be appropriate for a comparison with LEDs it may need to be modified again and this is something that the entire industry is currently investigating.
LM. LedEngine is using CREE chip in their LEDs, but they have a specific package which permits to the phosphor to be cooler than the chip itself. The consequence of this is the improvement of the color stability during the LED’s life. Your lumiramic product was done to stabilize the color too? Or is it only a way to make the LED more robust?
SL. I don’t have any direct knowledge about LedEngin’s solutions and can’t comment on it. Our Lumiramic is a phosphor technology, not a product. It allows us to have greater control over the manufacturing distribution of CCT as well as increase efficiency and color stability of the complete LED package.
About Philips Lumileds
LM. Recently, Philips Lighting has announced a contract with OSRAM which will compel lighting companies developing LEDs applications, to pay Royalties to PHILIPS. To do that, Philips Intellectual Property & Standards service, send a document to these companies (Mr Rob Voorkamp director). In this document (3 pages), some details about the companies applications are asked (number of LEDs, Voltage, current regulation, etc.). If the various companies give these information, PHILIPS will have on hand all the details on it’s competitor. So, what about this document ? By the way, what kind of advices could you tell us if we would be a company which develops LEDs applications?
LM. LUMILEDS is well known to propose Leds before competition, with very nice colour rendering index (CRI). Do you plan to improve this parameter in the next 6-8 month, giving to users the possibility to reach other lighting applications?
SL. Color Rendering Index (CRI) is one factor in an application and CRI needs can vary significantly between applications and even regionally around the world. We continue to address CRI as well as CCT and light output of our products to ensure that our customers are able to develop final solutions that address the needs of their customers. It’s important as well to remember that the final CCT and CRI of a luminaire is affected by the integration and optical systems that are utilized in addition to the LED.
LM. Today, most of big actors on the high power LED market have multi-chip LED on their catalogue : OSTAR from Osram, P7 from seoul semiconductor, MCE from CREE, even the GAÏA from Nichia. What about Lumileds ? Do they plan to develop another package with multi-chip inside?
SL. In fact, Lumileds first provided the market with a multi-chip product in 2003 when we released the LUXEON V (four chips) which continues to be an active product in the market. We continue to evaluate and work on product designs that directly support our customers’ needs and application development.
LM. What do you think about the strategy to put 5 chip, thinking to the fact that in the next 6-12 month, the Vf will probably reach 3V or less. In this case, it will be possible to imagine a LED which be able to be supply at 12VDC with a simple resistor for current regulation. Of course, a current regulation is the best way to drive a LED, but in some cases, 12VDC will be a simple solution and low cost.
BM. Lumileds has known issues with the TFFC technology. For instance, K2 TFFC are not available in warm and neutral white. When do you think that these problems will be fixed ?
SL. We have no known issues with the TFFC technology. You may be referring to an epoxy problem we had last year which is long resolved. With respect to warm and neutral white LUXEON K2 with TFFC, these products are in fact in the market and released.
LM. A few years ago, LUMILEDS has developed it’s LUXEON 1 with the possibility to have a side view emission. Today, we have some additional lenses to reach the same functionality but we lose in term of price, LED integration process and efficiency. Do you think LUMILED will develop a K2 side emitting ?
SL. I can’t comment on specific product roadmaps or introductions but if the market needs are appropriate for a side emitting LUXEON K2 then that’s something we would look at. Fortunately, Future Lighting Solutions working with optics companies like Carclo, Fraen and others is making sure that most of these needs are addressed.
Philips bought Kolor kinetics, which is a value added company. Is this partnership will permit Philips to expand its range?
BM and LM. Thank you for giving us this interview. This is a great honor for www.led-fr.net. This interview will allow readers to better understand the market for SSL.
SL. I appreciate your taking the time to have the discussion.
The questions were asked by Benjamin MONTEIL, director of www.led-fr.net and by Laurent MASSOL, owner of LED engineering Development.
[HAITZ 2000] R. Haitz, F. Kish, J. Tsao, J. Nelson, « Another semiconductor Revolution: This Time It’s Lighting! ». Compound Semiconductor Magazine, Volume 6, No. 2. March 2000.