Report from Light Sources 2012 at Rensselaer

Your humble editor attended Light Source 2012 (LS13) hosted this year by the Lighting Research Center in Rensselaer, NY.  Of all of the events in our industry, and there are too many events, this is by far the most technical.   Filled with scientists and lots of talk about Nano particles, I was a bit out of my league.

In a private conversation Juris Sulcs of ADLT/Venture Lighting and I were discussing the state of change when industry-legend John Waymouth stated, “We used to measure product life cycles in the quarter-century.”   I thought this was a very profound statement.

Mark Rea, director of the Lighting Research Center was the host of the event and kicked it off by introducing industry leaders to discuss the future of lighting.  The first day was sponsored by the Illuminating Engineering Society.

 Below are the things, which I pretended to understand:

Rob Glass, Cree’s, Vice President of Technology, Materials and Optoelectronics, gave one of the most interesting and honest talks of the day.  

Glass explained that Cree was really a technology company that is also in lighting.  He said, “The first guy through the wall always gets bloodied.”  Looking at their stock price lately, he is correct.   He also said the future is not one S curve, but many S curves.  Glass emphasized that the products must be economical in order to be viable.   He showed a slide titled, “What technologies will shape the future?”

  • Control
  • S/P ratio optimization
  • Quantum dots
  • GaN on Si
  • Light Emitting Plasma
  • OLEDs
  • Application specific lighting

I found it interesting that the company I perceive as one of the leaders in LED lists Light Emitting Plasma as shaping the future. 

Zoltán Vamos, GE’s General Manager, Global Lighting Technology spoke about the transformation of our industry.  Specifically he stated that technology, customer preference, regulation standards, inflation (rare earth) and shortness of material are driving new technology. GE wants to change your light to improve the quality of that light and to give an economical benefit.  Listed below are the tools needed to win:

  • Thermal, optics, phosphor, packages
  • Light engine
  • Luminaire
  • Intelligent drivers
  • Energy management systems

Klaus Streubel, Osram’s Senior Vice President and Head of Research & Development presented a few bold numbers:

  • Residential LED penetration will grow from 9% to 71% from 2011 to 2020.  I don’t believe that one out of every ten A-lamps in the residential sector is LED.  The speaker has the luxury of looking at worldwide numbers, and my experience is primarily in the U.S., but call me skeptical. 
  • Architectural lighting showed 46% LED penetration in 2011 and will grow to 79% in 2020.  Again, almost 50% of architectural lights last year were LED?  I don’t buy it. 
  • Hospitality lighting was 13% in 2011 and will grow to 77% in 2020. Maybe.

Katsumasa Nakai, Panasonic’s General Manager, Research & Development Center, Lighting Business Group shared:

  • 70% of new outdoor lighting in Japan will be LED in 2012.  This is also a staggering number, but given their energy situation after the Tsunami, I can accept it.  
  • 25% of all new office lighting will also be LED. 
  • Panasonic introduced a new term called PS, which stands for Preference Index of Skin color.  Most LED products are 83; their new product has a PS of 95. 

P.S.  One industry veteran explained that current CRI numbers are less than worthless as they cause more harm than good.  He thought the PS index could be a meaningful quantifier. 

Marc Janssen, Philips’ Vice President, Research & Development Manager, Light Sources & Electronics explained we are in the first wave called LEDification, which he defined as acceptable quality at an affordable price.  LEDification will create a second wave called Digitalization with personalization of light conditions and additional energy saving (demand response).

Not to be outdone by their Japanese rival, Takeo Yasuda, General Manager of Technology Planning Department, Toshiba Lighting & Technology, introduced a new term called Weluna.  (Space brightness is a sense of brightness we can feel from the entire space).  It is indirect illuminance at eye point.   Think of sticking a light meter in your eye.

After the panel spoke, Marianna Figueiro of the LRC, addressed the audience with “An overview of the non-visual effects of light: implications for new light sources and lighting systems design.”

  • Exposure to evening light makes one go to bed later and wake up later.    Exposure to 1000 lux for about 30 minutes will impact the circadian system.  If one goes to work in the dark and leaves work in the dark, the body never gets the light needed to trigger the circadian system.  Light has to hit the back of the eye to activate the circadian system.
  • Blue and red light as alerting stimuli.  2500 lux at the cornea will improve brain activity and reduce sleepiness because the light increases alertness as it suppresses melatonin.  At night, blue light suppresses melatonin more than red.  Research shows that blue light increases alertness at night and early morning—but not in the afternoon.
  • Mice are 3,000 to 10,000 times more sensitive to light than humans.  This is one of those facts that you throw out at a cocktail party, and it really gets the conversation going.

Next GE spoke about their L-Prize Omnidirectional LED Replacement Lamp.  This was a bold and gutsy talk.   The GE L-Prize Omnidirectional LED Replacement Lamp is a beautiful lamp.  The speaker gave an impressive talk about the DOLED’s stringent requirements and how GE beat those requirements with their 92 lpw lamp.  It was clear that the speaker was quite proud of the L-Prize, and in reading GE’s abstract, the term L-Prize is mentioned nine times.  Jim Brodrick must be smiling.  The problem is that the L-Prize was awarded last year—to Philips.

Konica Minolta spoke about their OLED.  Apparently old OLEDs used fluorescence material, which is inexpensive and inefficient (and so yesterday).  Konica Minolta is the first company to use all phosphorescent technology.  Fluorescence offers 25% singlet generation efficiency.  The Konica Minolta Symfos, with phosphorescent technology, offers 100% singlet generation.  Everyone knows that the higher the singlet generation efficiency the better.

Just when I had mastered the fact that phosphorescent technology was the very best, a speaker introduced the audience to Thermally Activated Delayed Fluorescence (TADF).  He explained that TADF was the third generation, which followed my new friend phosphorescent which is now considered second generation.  John Waymouth where have you gone?  Your quarter century life cycle just got compacted to 15 minutes.

There were several other discussions about OLEDs by various people. Below are the future OLED numbers:


























The general consensus was that OLEDs will compliment LEDs.  I was not aware, but OLEDs require no lens and no heat sink.  Other advantages are the instant-on and dimming, but don’t expect poor quality OLEDs to show up in flashlights.

Now that I am out of the closet and wearing a name badge identifying the EdisonReport, I get a few benefits.  One of which was a semi private tour from Bob Karlicek, Jr., Professor and Director of The Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center.   The ERC works on products that are five to ten years out.   He and a team from ERC demonstrated a project room, which has sensors that map a real-time 3D image of the entire  room.  The system will see a piece of furniture that normally does not move, look at its dimensions and its distance from the floor, and figure out that it is a couch. When a person enters into a room, it can see where the person is and where they are moving and adjust the light accordingly. I thought it was cool, but could not really see a commercial benefit to justify the cost.  Bob explained that the additional cost would be minimal. He went on to say that one of many applications would be a nursing home to monitor patients.  If a person falls, the system would send an alert.  ERC is also receiving interest from retailers who wish to determine how long customers stay in various parts of the store.  The precision of optical location services through technology like this will be more precise than RF based systems – think of it as lighting based indoor GPS.

The symposium lasts all week, but my head was about to explode.  So, one day was enough for me.