Sapphire Industry Watch – February 27

  • Electric cars and LED streetlights to help Edinburg meet emissions targets – Herald Scotland: This week, the Edinburgh City Council began considering adoption of the Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) that aims to reduce carbon emissions 42 percent by 2020. One proposal put forward in the plan is the replacement of street and tenement stair lights with energy efficient LED systems.
  • New branding at Great American Ball Park – WVXU Cincinnati: When the Cincinnati Reds return from spring training, they’ll find new signs at their home stadium, Great American Ball Park. The $1-2 million project was paid for by Great American Insurance Group and will replace three neon signs throughout the park with new LED signage. The LEDs will use less electricity and operation costs will be approximately 80 percent less than the current neon signs.
  • UL researchers LED the way – Clare Herald: Researchers at the Circuits and System Research Center at University of Limerick have received $380,000 in funding from Enterprise Ireland to develop technology that will make LED light-bulbs programmable. The technology will allow homeowners to control the level, tone and even color of light emitted from an LED light-bulb. The research aims to develop ‘smarter’ digital control algorithms to allow for increased functionality, as well as significant savings in energy consumption.
  • This Smart LED Jump Rope Flashes Stats in Front of Your Face – Gizmodo: Smart Rope, an LED-laden jump rope is putting a twist on fitness-tracking. Like a wearable, the jump rope tracks your movements and generates stats, but thanks to the LEDs embedded in the rope, it then displays your stats right in front of your eyes while you’re working out.

Sapphire Industry Watch – February 20

  • Glasshouse LEDs save greenhouse gasses – Electronics Weekly: As artificial lighting is increasingly used to extend the growing day and growing season inside greenhouses, UK plant researchers are looking into using LED lights to grow plants with less energy. While it is not necessarily the effectiveness of LEDs that is the advantage to growing plans indoors, the ability to save power by only delivering wavelengths useful to plants is highly effective for managing the growth process.
  • LED revolution unfolds in Guntur – The Hindu: Since the Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP) was launched in October, residents and businesses in the Anantpur, Guntur, Srikakulam and West Godavari districts have begun making the switch from incandescent light bulbs over to LEDs as part of a nationwide effort to conserve energy and money. In a span of just three months, DELP has already covered more than 80 percent of consumers in the district.
  • Rubicon’s Q4 Revenue Up 11 Percent on Q3 – Compound Semiconductor: Last week, Rubicon Technology reported financial results for its fourth quarter, which ended on December 31, 2014. The company reporter Q4 revenue of $8.9 million, an 11 percent increase from the previous quarter. Demand for the company’s two-inch sapphire cores increased considerably in the period.
  • LED lights to save $50K annually for Bridge Authority – Poughkeepsie Journal: The New York State Bridge Authority has announced a new project to improve lighting around the Mid-Hudson Bridge through the installation of LED lights. The project, which will generate more than $53,000 in annual savings, calls for the installation of 174 LED lights. The project will cost $57,069 and include 120 street lights, 22 high mast lights and 32 tower lights.

Sapphire Industry Watch – February 13

  • Rubicon Technology produces large-area sapphire windows – Aerospace Manufacturing and Design: Rubicon Technology has successfully produced the first synthetic sapphire crystal of its size and thickness, meeting a key milestone in its Large-Area Net-Shape Crystal Extraction (LANCE) project. At 36″ x 18″ x 2″, this piece of sapphire will serve the demanding needs of defense applications, along with future commercial and industrial applications.
  • Madrid’s LED bulbs are street lights ahead of the world (VIDEO) – Malay Mail Online: In an effort to reduce energy consumption, Madrid plans to replace 225,000 traditional street light bulbs with LEDs. The switch is expected to save the city 36 percent of annual energy consumption and reduce CO2 emissions by the equivalent of that generated by 100,000 vehicles in one year.
  • Jefferson scientist’s study of SAD took him to space and back – Lack of light is scientifically proven to be one of the most depressing things about winter. Neuroscientist George Brainard has been testing the biological impact of light and its connection with those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). His studies have led him to predict that LED lights will soon displace all other forms of lighting because they offer more flexibility in brightness and color, improving overall health and well-being.
  • Making City Streets Smarter, More Efficient – Lighting and software engineers are working on a new breed of LED street lights that contain sensors with the ability to gather traffic data. The traffic data collected could help ease congestion and help drivers avoid busy roads and intersections. These LEDs are building off of existing technologies that have the ability to dim outdoor lights when no one is around.

Coming to a City Near You — LED Street Lights

From San Jose to Virginia Beach, antiquated street lamps are being upgraded to the latest and most efficient lighting technology — LEDs.

As major cities nationwide begin reaping the many benefits of converting to LED street lights, so too may your city.

Street LightPhoto Credit:

Energy savings 

As anyone who has been shopping for LEDs can attest, they generally have a higher initial purchase cost compared with traditional light bulbs. The same goes for the price of an LED streetlight over conventional sodium light. However, cities are making an up-front investment in LEDs in order to experience long-term benefits of the technology.

A two-and-a-half-year global pilot of LED street lamps across major cities found that LED street lighting can generate energy savings as high as 85 percent. The pilot program also revealed that in the United States alone, cutting the energy used by lighting by 40 percent would save $53 billion in annual energy costs.

But LEDs don’t just cut costs — they also reduce the carbon footprint in the surrounding area.

According to CCTV America, scientists estimate that 20 percent of the entire world’s energy is spent on light, 6 percent of which is accounted for by street lamps. The potential to save is enormous when you consider that going from a traditional lighting system to an LED lighting system can result in energy savings of up to 50 percent.

 Clearer skies and safer streets

Gone are the days of dim lamps that cast a yellowish-orange glow onto our roads, and in are the new, flat boxy fixtures that illuminate streets with white light.

Not only do LED lights give a more neutral-colored illumination to streets, but they can even take away the cloudy glow of city lights, bringing clarity to the surrounding architecture that makes each city unique.

The view from the freeway of New Haven, Connecticut, for example, is significantly more visible after the LED street light program was implemented.


Photo Credit: inspiredLED

In addition to enhancing the scenery, LEDs are helping to make streets safer.

New smart LED lighting systems that are being implemented in parks and cities with high crime rates, such as Coolidge Park in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have the ability to turn on automatically at dusk and off at dawn. What’s more, each light can be controlled remotely by police officers to better illuminate a crime scene or trail as a suspect is fleeing. 

Beyond the U.S. borders 

The development and adoption of LED street lamps is not just an emerging trend in the United States — it’s happening globally.

The Danish Outdoor Lighting Lab recently set up examples of the most advanced street lighting systems in the world at a small industrial park on the outskirts of Copenhagen so that city planners from around the world could choose the best performers for their municipalities.

All of the examples in the park were controlled by Wi-Fi management systems, and most contained motion sensors and LEDs. The Danish Outdoor Lighting Lab hopes to integrate cutting-edge smart lamps around the world, including light that is triggered by a car moving past a lamp post.

When cities incorporate intelligent lighting systems that manage each LED light post, there can be upwards of a 75 to 80 percent energy savings over traditional lighting systems, according to the chief technical officer at the Danish Lighting Lab, Kim Brostrom.

Recent breakthroughs in LED technology are leading to lower prices and increased availability. This is the spark that will bring LEDs to people and cities all over the world. As the new year begins, LED street lights are certainly a technology to watch in 2015.

Hollywood Streets Get LED Makeover

The recent project to replace Los Angeles street lights with LEDs has come with some unintended consequences. Making movies at night on the streets of LA may never be the same.  In the past, directors liked the look that LA’s high-pressure sodium street lights gave to their movies.  The old street-lighting would lend a gritty, dark, film-noir feel to movies filmed on the streets of LA.

Here’s an image of an LA street before LEDs and after:

Hollywood Street Lights, Before and After LEDs (Source, Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting)

Hollywood Street Lights, Before and After LEDs (Source, Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting)

According to Dave Kendricken in No Film School, filmmakers like Michael Mann specifically chose Los Angeles as the location for the movie Collateral (2004, starring Tom Cruise) because of the antique aura the street lights brought the film.  Collateral’s plot took place completely at night, so the feeling that the lighting gave the film was a prime concern for the director.

The project is important to the city for saving money and energy.  LA’s 140,000 new street lights, a combination of Cree, Hadco and Leotek lights, are projected to save LA about $7 million in electricity savings.  According to a press release, LA funded the project through a $40 million loan from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and a combination of rebate funds also from the LADWP a Street Lighting Maintenance Assessment Fund.

The city said the loan paid back through savings in energy and maintenance costs by over the next seven years. After the loan is repaid, LA will begin to save $10 million/year. The project in LA isn’t complete yet. And you can see a map of the project’s progress here.

But, what can filmmakers do to mimic the look of the old street lights in LA?  They can choose a new city, select a different part of LA that hasn’t been converted yet, or use digital techniques and/or lighting filters to change the look. LED street lights present a challenge for filmmakers, but they’re worthwhile for the planet.

For Further Reading

No Film School, Why Hollywood Will Never Look the Same Again on Film: LEDs Hit the Streets of LA & NY,

Daily Mail, Say goodbye to moody Collateral-style movie shots: How LED street lights mean films set at night in LA and across the world will now be bathed in gray,

Gizmodo, How LED Streetlights Will Change Cinema (And Make Cities Look Awesome),




Street Lights of the Future that Can Fight Crime

Chattanooga’s Coolidge Park (credit: John Bamber)

Street lights in Chattanooga, Tennessee are very smart and they can fight crime too.  A Chattanooga company, Global Green Lighting, has developed the smart street light of the future.  As described in a profile in The Atlantic Cities magazine, the city of Chattanooga was having gang problems in Coolidge Park, one of their city parks. The situation got so bad in 2011 that the city was facing a decision to close the park at dusk or light the park with gigantic flood lights for safety.  Along came Global Green Lighting to save the day!

Global Green Lighting installed a new smart LED lighting system in Coolidge Park.  Not only does the new LED lighting system provide better, less expensive lighting for the park, but the new wirelessly enabled LED lighting system offers the city the ability to work smarter.  Each light can be controlled specifically to turn on at dusk and turn off at dawn. Each light also can turn into a crime fighting tool like a search light or brighten to illuminate a crime scene or trail a suspect as he or she sprints down a road.  While park goers can’t activate the changes in the LED lighting, the lights can be controlled right from a police cruiser on site.

The LED lighting system also brings other advantages for the city.  They can flash warning signals in emergencies like weather alerts. Further, they’ll be wired into the city’s power system and broadband network so the city can plug in devices like air quality sensors, video cameras, or WiFi routers.

After a successful test of 350 lights last year, Chattanooga worked with Global Green Lighting to replace the city’s 26,500 streetlamps at a cost of $18.1 million.  The city estimates that the new lights will save $2.7 million each year when the project is completed in late 2013 and the system will pay for itself within seven years. Further, the system is so smart that it will alert the city when one of the LED lights is having a maintenance issue, letting them know which one needs service.

For Further Reading

Global Green Lighting,

The Atlantic Cities, The Streetlight of the Future Will Do So Much More Than Light Your Street,

BusinessWeek, Chattanooga’s Radio-Operated Streetlamps,


Happy Birthday LED! LEDs Turn 50!

Nick Holonyak created the first visible-spectrum LED in 1962. Photo: Courtesy of Nick Holonyak/GE

50 years ago on October 9, 1962, GE scientist Dr. Nick Holonyak, Jr., invented the first practical visible-spectrum light-emitting diode (LED) while his colleagues were working on a laser using light in the invisible IR spectrum.  According to Holonyak, he was mystified that his colleagues were using invisible IR light. “If they can make a laser, I can make a better laser than any of them because I’ve made this alloy that is in the red-visible,” said Holonyak. “And I’m going to be able to see what’s going on. And they’re stuck in the infrared.”

GE scientist Dr. Robert N. Hall was working toward realizing a semiconductor laser in the infrared with GaAs (Gallium arsenide), Holonyak aimed for the visible with GaAsP (gallium arsenide phosphide). On October 9th, with GE colleagues looking on, Holonyak became the first person to operate a visible semiconductor alloy laser, the device that illuminated the first visible LED.

His colleagues at GE at the time dubbed the device ‘the magic one’ because its light, unlike infrared lasers, was visible to the human eye.  Holonyak was confident that he was onto something big.  In a GE interview, he remembers feeling that he was onto something big when ‘the magic one’ first lit up.  “I know that I’m just at the front end but I know the result is so powerful,” he said.  “There’s no ambiguity about the fact that this has got a life way beyond what we’re seeing.”

Today, LEDs can be used for a range of lighting and industrial applications from simple indicator lights to LED street lights, LED light bulbs for the home, office and commercial applications in retail including Home Depot, IKEA, Starbucks, Target, and Wal-mart, and even to regional grocery and convenience stores like Food City and Wawa.  LEDs also are used for display and backlighting in stadium TVs to consumer HDTVs and today’s smart phones and tablets like the iPad.

For Further Reading and Viewing

GE Video Interview, Nick Holonyak,

Solid State Technology, GE News Release, LED Inventor Nick Holonyak Reflects on Discovery 50 Years Later,

LED 50th Anniversary Symposium,

Wired, How Lasers Inspired the Inventor of the LED,


Marriott HQ Greens Up with LED Make-Over from GE Lighting

Marriott’s new LED signage at their HQ in Bethesda, MD

Companies of all kinds and sizes are getting greener – to help the planet and to save money.  GE Lighting, founded by the father of the incandescent bulb, Thomas Edison, recently helped convert Marriott International headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland to LED lighting from top to bottom and inside out.  The famous lodging company had three goals for the project: enrich lighting quality, heighten employee security and improve energy efficiency. The retrofit project covered both the interior of the building and exterior. When the corporate campus-wide lighting is complete, Marriott anticipates that they will use 860,000 fewer kilowatt hours (kWhs) of electricity and save more than $120,000 in combined energy and maintenance costs a year.  You can view a video case study of the project here.

Marriott is not alone in retrofitting their corporate campus for the aesthetic, security and energy saving benefits. According to market research firm Strategies Unlimited, the commercial and industrial LED lighting segment was the largest LED in lighting segment in 2011.  Strategies Unlimited forecast revenues to grow to $1.2 billion in 2016, following a CAGR of 13%.

GE Lighting began the Marriott project with a comprehensive audit of Marriott’s existing lighting systems including photometric analysis with 3D renderings of the new system and forecast Marriott’s energy and maintenance savings.

Project Highlights:

LED lighting at Marriott’s outdoor parking and parking deck areas

Parking areas: LEDs now illuminate Marriott’s outdoor lots using 230 Evolve LED Area Lights, while a combination of LED garage light fixtures, LED flood lights and T8 fluorescents provide light for the parking decks and walkways. Marriott estimates the savings to be 280-watts per outdoor lighting fixture reducing energy use by 580,000 kWhs a year, equating to $70,000 in utility cost savings. In addition, new dimming technology will help control and reduce light output to 40 percent while the parking deck is vacant and adjusts to 100 percent when motion is detected saving $11,000 in energy (88,000-kWh reduction) each year.

LED lighting in the foyer at Marriott’s HQ

Interior:  Marriott’s eight-floor, 900,000-square-foot headquarters is now a showplace for LED lighting.  GE replaced 1,000 65-watt bulbs with 7-watt LED lamps in all hallways. The 58-watt difference delivers nearly $18,000 savings (150,000-kWh savings) in electricity expense over 261 working days.  In the multi-story foyer, special scaffolding is required to reach fixtures. In the past, Marriott would change the lights just about one to two years on average at a cost close to $3,000.  GE replaced 12 90-watt bulbs with 20-watt LED lamps. Rated for 50,000 hours of life, GE’s LEDs could keep the scaffolding away for up to seven years.  Management found the halogen and CFL lighting in Marriott’s auditorium inadequate for Marriott’s advanced dimming system. While the halogen lights could be darkened, the CFLs could not. GE installed dimmable LED lamps producing a fully dimmable system with higher light levels and more light uniformity as well as $2,300 in energy savings.  The building’s lower level that includes a daycare and cafeteria got special LED light panels (troffers).  These 2’x2’ fixtures produce a perfectly even glow and while off appear completely free of a light source to blend in with the ceiling, enhancing the aesthetic of Marriott’s employee space.

Finally, the project will retrofit the ‘Marriott’ sign at the Bethesda headquarters entrance with Tetra® PowerStrip LED lighting, improving maintenance cycles from two to three times per year to once every five to 10 years.

For Further Reading:

GE Lighting Solutions, GE LED lighting brings new radiance, energy savings to Marriott headquarters,

Marriott – GE Lighting Solutions Case Study Video:

Study Finds LED Street Lights Generate 85% Energy Savings

Energy savings is one of the major arguments in favor of using LEDs for lighting applications including street lights. The people connected with LightSavers conducted a study based on a rather impressive two-and-a-half-year global pilot of LED street lamps in 15 separate trials across 12 cities around the globe including New York, London, Kolkata, India and Sydney, Australia. The study concluded that LED street lighting can generate energy savings as high as 85%. That’s a fairly impressive number.

The LightSaver trial concluded that LEDs are now mature enough for scale-up in most outdoor applications as well as bring the economical and social benefits to the masses. The report explored the global market status and potential for LED technology and provides guidelines for policymakers and city light managers who want to scale-up and finance large LED retrofits.

Some specific study findings directly relating to lighting include:

• Surveys in Kolkata, London, Sydney and Toronto indicated that citizens prefer LED lighting, with 68% to 90% of respondents endorsing city-wide rollout of the technology.

• LED lighting was found to be a durable technology with the need for minimal repairs; the failure rate of LED products over 6,000 hours is around 1%, compared, for example, to around 10% for conventional lighting over a similar time period.

You can see a video about the Kolkata trial  here:

The findings of LightSavers are presented for the first time in the new report, Lighting the Clean Revolution: The Rise of LED Street Lighting and What it Means for Cities: The results of the study were distributed via press release from Royal Philips Electronics. The report was produced by The Climate Group in partnership with Philips in support of the campaign’s argument that major energy savings can be achieved virtually overnight at relatively little cost.

Additional Facts:

• Lighting is responsible for 19% of global electricity use and around 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions1.

• Doubling lighting efficiency globally would have a climate impact equivalent to eliminating half the emissions of all electricity and heat production in the EU2.

• In the United States alone, cutting the energy used by lighting by 40% would save US$53 billion in annual energy costs, and reduce energy demand equivalent to 198 mid-size power stations3.


1 IEA (2006) Light’s Labour’s Lost, OECD/IEA

2 ‘Homes’ includes CO2 emissions from residential use of gas and electricity. Figures from: IEA, 2011, CO2 emissions from fuel combustion: Highlights.

3 Power stations at 2 TWh of generation each year. Data from Philips Market Intelligence and IEA: Philips (2011) ‘The LED lighting revolution: A summary of the global energy savings potential’, based on IEA analysis.