- Sapphire Hunter: Skeptics Are Doubting Apple’s Plans For The iPhone 6, But This Analyst Still Believes — Forbes: Analyst Matt Margolis explains why it is still probable Apple will include sapphire as its protective faceplate among daily doubt and skepticism.
- Huawei Experimenting With Sapphire Crystal Screens, Flaunts Modified Ascend P7 — Digital Trends: The largest telecommunications company in the world demonstrated the strength and durability of sapphire faceplates on a model of a recently released phone, but has yet to announce if this will be released at a later date or was just demonstrating the capability of the faceplate.
- The Next Great Light Bulb — Slate: A “layman’s” explanation to wattage, lumens and why LED bulbs are the most energy efficient bulbs in the market, as well as why consumers should give LEDs a chance. He responds to a previous article criticizing LEDs and praising CFLs by comparing four separate LED bulbs by efficiency, brightness and light color.
- Industrial Electronics Chip Sector Rebounds — EE Times: Industrial Semiconductor Market Tracker – Q2 2014 report has been released, and industrial electronics chip revenue reached $8.61 billion, up 17.5 percent from Q1 2013. Analysts credit the demand in various markets, including LED lighting, as well as global industrial growth for the rebounding earnings, and project a 9.4 percent increase from year-end in 2013.
- NRG Stadium Gets an Energy Makeover: Houston Texans Home is Now an LED and Solar Power Groundbreaker — Culture Map Houston: NRG Stadium in Houston will be the first professional football stadium in the country with LED lights shining on the field and solar panels installed to help power the stadium. The renovation is part of the NRG Park’s sustainability master plan, which includes electric car charging stations and mobile charging stations
Major League Baseball will play its All-Star Game on July 15th. Baseball may be as American as apple pie, but many people may not realize that it wasn’t always played at night. In fact, before lighting, the stands for most MLB games during weekdays were empty since most baseball fans were at work. Lighting changed all that and turned the MLB into the behemoth sport it is today. Today, even kids play baseball under lights. Now, Major League Baseball is going through another revolution – LED lighting.
But first, let us take a look at how revolutionary lighting was to baseball. GE lighting engineer Robert J. Swackhamer successfully deployed an array of high-wattage lamps to light the railroad yards at night for a railroad. The lighting worked so well that Swackhamer convinced his bosses to test the arrays at General Electric Athletic Field in Lynn, Massachusetts.
On June 24, 1927, General Electric lit up the first night baseball game in history between Lynn and Salem using 72 flood lamps on five towers. Salem won 7-2 in front of a crowd that included players from the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Americans.
The GE executives were onto something. The progress was slow at first. It took GE three years to sign up a few minor league teams as customers. By 1935, GE finally hit the Major Leagues with the Cincinnati Reds. The first Major League night game took place at the Red’s Crosley Field on Friday, May 24, 1935. The Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 in front of a crowd of 20,000 people. Legendary Cincinnati announcer Red Barber said, “As soon as I saw the lights come on, I knew they were there to stay.” By 1941, 11 of the 16 Major League baseball fields installed GE lighting, including the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers.
Today, yesterday’s high-intensity-discharge (HID) metal halide lamp floodlights are beginning to be replaced with LED lighting. There are a lot of factors that make LED lighting attractive in to MLB and even NFL stadium management. It may be difficult to light the entire playing surface with traditional HID lighting. Lighting must be able to shine on second base or the 50 yard line requiring brighter and longer distance. LEDs shine brighter and can light longer distances making them more efficient. They are also more precise, so they can light up the playing surface and not blind spectators. LED lighting also lasts longer – 50,000 hours – reducing maintenance costs. They also light to full strength instantly.
Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans was marred by a 34 minute delay at the Superdome. According to Entergy New Orleans, power to the lights was lost when sensing equipment detected abnormalities. Once the outage cause was discovered and power was restored, the HID floodlights required time to come back to full brightness, about 10 to 15 minutes. By contrast, LED lighting is instant on.
Major League Baseball stadiums have already made progress in switching to LED signage with most stadiums sporting LED scoreboards and/or ribbon lighting. The most notable LED scoreboards in baseball are the Detroit Tigers’ 6,096 square feet LED video panel at Comerica Field and the Seattle Mariners’ scoreboard that measures 56.7-feet high by 201.5-feet wide and covers 11,425 square feet. They’re beginning to make progress in switching to LED lighting for their facilities. Busch Stadium, where the St. Louis Cardinals play, began energy efficiency improvements soon after it opened in 2006. Facility management has replaced more than 1,000 traditional spotlights and floodlights with LED lamps to cut lighting power demand in several areas by 90%.
For Further Reading
GE Reports, If You Build it They Will Come: How a GE Engineer Invented Night Baseball, http://www.gereports.com/post/81315361164/if-you-build-it-they-will-come-how-a-ge-engineer
Athletic Business, LED Tech Poised to Revolutionize Outdoor Sports Lighting, http://www.athleticbusiness.com/outdoor/led-technology-poised-to-revolutionize-outdoor-sports-lighting.html
NFL.com, Superdome power outage delays Super Bowl XLVII, http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/story/0ap1000000134895/article/superdome-power-outage-delays-super-bowl-xlvii
Greentech Media, Guest Analysis: Super Bowl Power Outage Shines a Bad Light on HID Lighting, http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/guest-analysis-superbowl-power-outage-shines-a-bad-light-on-hid-lighting
There has been so much hype and misinformation about sapphire lately, particularly surrounding sapphire covers or faceplates for smartphones, that we thought we’d review some basic info about commercial sapphire.
- “Sapphire glass”
There really isn’t any such thing as sapphire “glass.” Sapphire is not a kind of glass; it’s a very hard monocrystalline material. The proper way to reference the clear layer of stuff that may soon cover the screen of your smart phone is as a “sapphire cover” or “sapphire faceplate.” Glass is made of silica or sand, and sapphire is made from aluminum oxide. The two materials have very different physical properties. So, glass isn’t really the right descriptor.
- Sapphire is unbreakable.
Well, no. That’s not really accurate. A thin piece of sapphire can shatter, similarly to glass or a piece of gorilla glass. Sapphire is the second hardest material on Earth (after the diamond). As such, a thin slice of sapphire will shatter. What is sapphire good at? Sapphire is scratch resistant. That’s one of the main reasons why smartphone vendors are interested in sapphire for applications in lenses and fingerprint scanners.
- Sapphire is blue.
Yes and No. Sapphire, also called corundum, comes in a range of colors. The purest form of sapphire is clear. Sapphire is a crystal made from Aluminum Oxide (Al2O3). Natural sapphire forms over thousands of years in the earth, but comes in different colors due to impurities such as minerals or other conditions (like humidity or radiation). Rubies are made of aluminum oxide and are actually sapphires. They are red because the crystal contains impurities in the form of the mineral chromium, making the crystal red. Sapphire gemstones get their blue hue from iron and titanium. Yellow sapphires get their color from a combination of iron and radiation (interesting). The commercial sapphire that’s now being used in consumer electronics is very pure, so it’s colorless.
- Sapphire in LEDs and smart phones is from blue sapphire gemstones.
No. The sapphire that is used in LEDs and smartphones is grown in a commercial setting using one of few processes – the Verneuil Method, Kyropoulous Method, Heat Exchanger Method, Czochralski Method and Edge-Defined Film-Fed Growth Method. Each method has its differences, but they produce a single crystal of clear sapphire that is fabricated (cut and polished) into a sapphire substrate used in an LED or into a lens or faceplate for optical uses like smart phones.
While the glitz and glamour of FIFA World Cup soccer remains on the field, others in Brazil are turning to LEDs to celebrate the tournament with light. Even Brazil’s iconic Christ the Redeemer Statue is taking a role in the FIFA World Cup. The monument will be lit up with the colors of each country’s flag. This is possible due to a recent LED lighting retrofit of the popular tourist destination Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Completed in 1931, the famous statue had an LED light retrofit for its 80th birthday in 2011. Lighting company Osram replaced the outdated lighting system with 300 advanced LED projectors (from subsidiary Traxon Technologies). These high-output spotlights are fitted with a special lens to precisely light the statue in alternating colors and different light intensities.
A special “Lighting Control Engine” aims each LED projector to light a particular part of the statue. The lighting can be programmed and controlled remotely providing energy efficient atmospheric lighting for the monument. The new lighting system saves time and resources for the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro.
For Further Reading & Viewing
The Guardian, Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer lit up in celebration of the World Cup – video, http://www.theguardian.com/football/video/2014/jun/12/rio-de-janeiro-christ-the-redeemer-lit-up-celebration-world-cup-video
NLB, Christ the Redeemer Monument in Rio de Janeiro Bathed in a New Light, http://www.nlb.org/index.cfm?cdid=10779&pid=10634
NDTV Sports, FIFA World Cup 2014 Opening Ceremony, Highlights: J-Lo, Pitbull Kick Off Biggest Mega-Event in Sao Paulo, http://sports.ndtv.com/fifa-world-cup-2014/news/225479-live-blog-fifa-world-cup-2014-opening-ceremony
ECD Solutions, Brazil’s football stadiums install LED lights ahead of summer tournament, http://www.electricalsolutions.net.au/case_studies/67109-Brazil-39-s-football-stadiums-install-LED-lights-ahead-of-summer-tournament
Schreder, SCHRÉDER, PARTNER FOR LIGHTING THE 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP STADIA IN BRAZIL, http://www.schreder.com/be-en/News/Pages/Schreder-partner-for-lighting-2014-FIFA-World-Cup-Stadia-in-Brazil.aspx
Semiconductor Today recently published a new article about sapphire quality, Marked advancement in sapphire crystal quality from improved process control, written by John Ciraldo of Rubicon Technology. The article examines sapphire quality and how sapphire makers strive to keep up with the pace of advances in LED technology. Sapphire is a very important part of LEDs. Sapphire is the substrate, or foundation, for more than 85% of LEDs. And quality starts with that foundation.
According to Ciraldo, sapphire is the most suitable material for a substrate in LEDs because, in addition to its availability, favorable optical properties and relatively low cost of use, it has superior lattice (arrangement of atoms) matching to GaN, the material that is layered on sapphire during epitaxial growth to make an LED. The industry calls it a “lattice mismatch” because the layers don’t line up perfectly due to differences in crystalline structure of the two materials. The mismatch between GaN and sapphire can be further exacerbated by defects in the sapphire crystal such as surface bubbles, dislocations and impurities. The quality of the sapphire and this “mismatch” ultimately impacts the performance of an LED that provides the light source for an LED light bulb.
Ciraldo notes that LED producers continue to push the limits of power and efficiency in their devices making substrate quality an increasingly important consideration. He notes that “as a result, substrate producers need to continue to innovate and find new ways to enhance their material.”
He explains how Rubicon Technology takes a holistic approach to improving the quality of its sapphire using vertical integration throughout crystal growth. Rubicon controls every aspect of the crystal growth process from the raw material all the way through finishing in order to gain greater consistency and uniformity and has earned a reputation for overall sapphire material quality.
How do they know they produce quality sapphire? Ciraldo details how Rubicon uses x-ray diffraction (XRD) rocking curves and x-ray topography images to evaluate the quality of sapphire. For research related to the article, Ciraldo partnered with scientists at The Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratories, Dr. Albert Macrander and Dr. Naresh Kujala, to evaluate sapphire samples from Rubicon and two competitors. This work is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357.
Rocking curve data shows that material from Rubicon exhibits a greater overall intensity with a significantly narrower peak, both of which are indicators of superior crystal quality. In addition, the rocking curve data shows higher symmetry in the Rubicon sample, indicative of a very low stress gradient within the material. Low stress is another very important characteristic of a high quality crystal. X-ray topography measures crystalline quality. The team examined the same samples using X-ray topography. The images show defects in the lattice structure represented by dark spots and streaks. The Rubicon sample demonstrates fewer defects and streaks.
Ciraldo concludes that, “by exercising more control over the production of our sapphire material through a vertically integrated approach, Rubicon Technology has demonstrated vast improvements in the overall quality of sapphire crystals that make them much more suited to advanced applications, including high-efficiency LEDs.”
For Further Reading
Semiconductor Today, Marked advancement in sapphire crystal quality from improved process control, http://ow.ly/xZcGO
According to a report in BioOptics World, scientists at the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri have developed a new way to study the brain, diffuse optical tomography (DOT), a new non-invasive technique that relies on LEDs rather than magnets or radiation. While still experimental, it offers promise for a new non-invasive test for the human brain.
While it looks primitive now, DOT scans use LED light to measure brain activity. For a DOT scan, a subject wears a cap composed of many light sources and sensors connected to cables. A DOT cap covers two-thirds of the head and involves shining LED lights directly into the head. DOT images show brain processes taking place in multiple regions and brain networks, like those involved in language processing and self-reflection (daydreaming). It also avoids radiation exposure and bulky magnets required by positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) respectively.
DOT works best for patients with electronic implants that can be problematic with MRI testing such as pacemakers, cochlear implants, and deep brain stimulators (used to treat Parkinson’s disease). The magnetic fields in MRI may disrupt either the function or safety of implanted electrical devices while DOT doesn’t impact these types of devices.
How does DOT work? According to author Joseph Culver, Ph.D., associate professor of radiology, DOT can detect the movement of highly oxygenated blood flows to the parts of the brain that are working harder when the neuronal activity of a region in the brain increases. He told BioOptics World that, “It’s roughly akin to spotting the rush of blood to someone’s cheeks when they blush.” According to the magazine, DOT works by detecting light transmitted through the head and capturing the dynamic changes in the colors of the brain tissue.
DOT has a lot of potential benefits for medicine concerning the brain. Since DOT technology does not use radiation, doctors could monitor progress of patients using multiple scans performed over time without worry. It could be useful for patients recovering from brain injuries, patients with developmental disorders such as autism, and patients with neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s.
Currently, a full-scale DOT unit takes up an area slightly larger than a phone booth, but Culver and his team have built versions of the scanner mounted on wheeled carts. The DOT device is designed to be portable, so it could be used at a patient’s bedside in the hospital or at home, in a doctor’s office, or even in the operating room in the future.
For more details about DOT, visit:
BioOptics World, DIFFUSE OPTICAL TOMOGRAPHY ABLE TO SCAN THE BRAIN WITHOUT RADIATION, MAGNETS, http://www.bioopticsworld.com/articles/2014/05/diffuse-optical-tomography-able-to-scan-the-brain-without-radiation-magnets.html
Nature, Mapping distributed brain function and networks with diffuse optical tomography, http://www.nature.com/nphoton/journal/v8/n6/full/nphoton.2014.107.html (registration required)
The world’s skylines are changing. They’re no longer bathed in white light or neon. Thanks to new programmable LEDs, today’s city skylines are transformed into rainbows of light promoting good causes, events and company brands in every color imaginable that can change nightly.
But first let’s take a look at how lighting in cities got its start. Skylines and exhibitions played an early role in promoting lighting. Perhaps one of the most notable points in the history of lighting is the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.
The Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 set the stage for promoting the wonder of electric lighting. In fact it was a big part in the race to light the world between Westinghouse backing Nicola Tesla (inventor of alternating current) and General Electric, owned by JP Morgan and Thomas Edison (inventor of light bulbs and direct current).
Westinghouse outbid Edison for the contract to light and power the fair. More than 200,000 white incandescent bulbs, using Tesla’s polyphase alternating current system, amazed crowds as they lit up the world’s fair at night. How did they beat out Edison? They under-bid Edison and GE banned them from using Edison light bulbs in retaliation for losing the bid. To light the fair, Westinghouse and Tesla sidestepped Edison’s light bulb patents with a new double stopper light bulb.
Here’s a photo from the Chicago World’s Fair at night. Just imagine how impressive this display of light must have been to a population used to gas lights and candles.
Back to today. LED lighting systems have given rise to a whole new look to a city skyline. Here are a few of the more colorful city skylines bathed in LED lighting.
New York, New York
For Further Reading
NY Post, City’s towers in LED arms race to get brightest spot in skyline, http://nypost.com/2014/03/23/citys-towers-in-led-arms-race-to-get-brightest-spot-in-skyline/
City Lab, How LEDs Have Transformed the City Skyline, http://www.citylab.com/design/2013/07/how-leds-have-transformed-city-skyline/6382/
NY Post, High-tech LEDs turning NYC skyline into a lightshow, http://nypost.com/2014/01/15/high-tech-leds-turning-nyc-skyline-into-a-lightshow/
We like to report on interesting applications using LEDs. This latest application we are focusing on takes LEDs and combines them with farming to leverage unique properties – temperature and wavelenghths — of LEDs to grow more, better plants, indoors without the use of pesticides.
Chicago’s Green Sense Farms takes advantage of LEDs to make the largest indoor commercial vertical farm in the United States. According to a report in Gizmodo, Green Sense Farms recently announced two new huge climate-controlled grow rooms in its Chicago-area production warehouse. Green Sense Farms combines towering racks of vertical hydroponic systems with Philips “light recipe” LED grow lights.
Philips is building a database of ‘light recipes’ for different plant varieties since each plant has its own needs for light. A Philips Horticulture “light recipe” is an instruction based on knowledge of how to use light to grow a certain crop under certain conditions. Because LEDs produce less heat than traditional lighting, the light fixtures can be placed much closer to the crops without fear of burning them— reducing the vertical farm’s footprint and ensuring that each leaf gets the light it needs.
Using the system, Green Sense Farms is able to harvest its crops 26 times a year while using 85 percent less energy, 1/10th the amount of water, no pesticides or herbicides, and reducing the facility’s CO2 output by two tons a month. And, to make the Earth a better place, it even produces an average of 46 pounds of oxygen daily.
For Further Reading
Gizmodo, Chicago’s Huge Vertical Farm Glows Under Countless LED Suns, http://gizmodo.com/chicagos-huge-vertical-farm-farm-glows-under-countless-1575275486
Market research firm Yole Developpement recently published a new report on front-end manufacturing trends for LEDs. Their latest report gives us some very good news about the sapphire market. Semiconductor Today reported on Yole’s analysis. Here are some big take-aways:
- There is increased demand for larger-diameter sapphire wafers, with big players (such as LG, Sharp or Osram) moving to 6” wafers and Taiwanese players moving to 4” wafers.
- LED chip makers demand more patterned sapphire substrates (PSS). PSS are now mainstream in the market with an 87% share as of Q1 2014.
- While some companies (such as Soraa and Toshiba) have begun mass production of gallium nitride-on-silicon (GaN-on-Si) and GaN-on-GaN LEDs, market penetration of these alternative substrates will depend on future improvements in terms of performance and cost. Without these improvements, alternative substrates will not be able to fully compete with sapphire-based LEDs.
What does this mean for sapphire makers? LED chip manufacturers are looking to gain production efficiencies, lower costs, and increase performance for their LEDs. As the adoption for LED lighting increases, they need to make more and better performing LEDs. Large diameter sapphire wafers enable more throughput for each run of the MOCVD reactor, making better use of the reactor “real estate” and decreasing the cost per unit of area processed. Depending on the type of MOCVD reactor used, LED chip manufacturers using six-inch wafer platforms may achieve up to 48% greater usable area per reactor run as compared to two-inch wafers.
What does PSS offer? First, PSS helps improve epitaxial growth by promoting growth of the GaN in parallel to the substrate surface. This helps reduce the number of dislocations, called the dislocation density, which can degrade performance of an LED. Secondly, patterning can help extract as much as 30 percent more light from an LED. This is particularly advantageous for high brightness LEDs (HB LEDs) that are used in LED lighting applications.
LED chip manufacturers have been buying smaller 2-inch and 4-inch PSS from outside suppliers for years. The next step in the evolution in the market is the migration to large diameter PSS. Already a pioneer in the development of large diameter sapphire substrates, Rubicon Technology has developed capabilities for large diameter PSS making it possible to manufacture 6-inch and even 8-inch PSS. Rubicon is already gaining traction in the PSS market. The company recently reported in their Q1 2014 earnings call that they received their first order for PSS and have samples out to more than a dozen LED chip manufacturers.
For more information about the report from Yole, visit http://www.i-micronews.com/reports/LED-Front-End-Manufacturing-Trends-report/14/433
For Further Reading
Semiconductor Today, Substrates shaping trends in LED front-end manufacturing, http://www.semiconductor-today.com/news_items/2014/APR/YOLE_300414.shtml
Clearlysapphire.com, Larger Wafers, Larger Yield – The Numbers Behind Large Diameter Sapphire Wafers and Yield, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=435
Clearlysapphire.com, Large Diameter Patterned Sapphire Substrates Explained, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=582
Clearlysapphire.com, Sapphire Substrates for LED: The Big Move Toward 6″ Has Already Started, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=37
A lot of companies are participating in the new LED light bulb market, also called Solid State Lighting or SSL. These companies can be LED light bulb makers or participate by making some component of the LED light bulb ranging from heat sinks and LED chips to the sapphire growers, polishers and fabricators that make the foundation of the LED, the sapphire chip. All of them have a vested interest in helping consumers understand LED light bulbs and why they are different from CFLs and traditional incandescent light bulbs. We’ve gathered together some resources to help consumers understand their lighting options.
The US Department of Energy is leading the effort to educate consumers about their new lighting options and have enlisted companies that participate in the LED lighting market to help. The DOE has developed some very good resources on their own web site for the industry, http://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/ssl/. But they’ve also developed resources for consumers to learn more about their lighting choices. Some sample resources for consumers to learn more about LED lighting include a good FAQ here, http://energy.gov/articles/askenergysaver-led-lights.
The Federal Trade Commission requires a new lighting label, Lighting Facts, on all light bulb packages to help consumers understand what they’re buying. Optical and lighting publication Novus Light Today wrote about these new labeling requirements featuring an infographic from light bulb manufacturer Cree.
Many of these companies as well as consumer groups are producing infographics to help the consumer learn more. Here’s a round-up of links to additional resources for learning more about LEDs.
Angie’s List, Infographic: What’s in a light bulb?,
The information in the Angie’s List infographic is great, except for the pricing. LED light bulbs have gone down quite a bit in price with some at retailers in the US coming in at just under $10 and a few others cost less and are even more affordable when combined with rebates and other special offers.
Philips, The LED Lighting Revolution, http://community.lighting.philips.com/servlet/JiveServlet/showImage/102-1201-34-4943/Infographic_LED+Revolution_Philips+2012.png
Light bulb vendor Philips compiled a nice all around look at the energy-saving benefits of LED light bulbs and translates them into benefits for the environment and life.
Lumican, Can LED lighting really save energy and money?, http://lumican.com/portfolio-items/can-led-lighting-really-save-energy-and-money/
Canadian lighting solutions provider Lumican highlights US Department of Energy statistics and compares energy usage and savings of LED, halogen, CFL and traditional light bulbs.
LiveScience, NRDC Guide to Light Bulbs, http://www.livescience.com/42509-goodbye-to-old-lightbulbs.html
The NRDC does a great job at comparing LED light bulbs to CFLs and traditional incandescent light bulbs and gives a good explanation at the new light bulb packaging required by the US government.
We’ve also covered LEDs vs. CFLs on the Clearlysapphire blog. You can read them, here:
Clearlysapphire.com, Incandescent Extinction – Which light bulb will win? LED vs. CFL? http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=601
Clearlysapphire.com, Confused about Your Home Lighting? – LED, CFL and Incandescent Compared, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=492
Clearlysapphire.com, Tipping Point 2: Finally, A Sub $10 LED Light Bulb, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=371
Clearlysapphire.com, Tipping Point: Earth Day, 100W Light Bulb Reprieve and Alexander Hamilton, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=169